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Arts and Entertainment

Rabbit Hole Realism

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If there is one thing to be learned from the current Sitham Theater Company production of David Lindsay Abaire’s Rabbit Hole, it is that there is a very fine line between dramatic theatrical realism and overdone Lifetime TV-style icky-ness. Granted I am a part of that jaded, selfish, and not quite old enough to remember the happy Clinton-years crowd, so my perception of bearable and unbearable dramatic palpability is surely skewed in the direction of fatigued cynicism. But now that I have self-disclosed and absolved myself of critical responsibility, I feel free to elaborate on the clashing of Rabbit Hole's realism and icky-ness.

The story revolves around Becca and Howie, a suburban couple struggling to accept the death of their son. The audience is given the impression that Becca and Howie are upper-middle-class J. Crew aficionado types, which is instantly off-putting. Often there were times during the play where you want to slap Becca and insist that she stop being such a comfortably self-absorbed house-frau stereotype. However, the cast is skilled enough in their acting-craft to help the audience forget the demographic context of Becca’s grating presumptiveness and instead empathize with the family’s loss.

Undoubtedly, the play is adequately engaging as it breaks down the complexities of coping with a recent death. Lindsay-Abaire accurately captures all of the subtle familial-meshing of competing inner struggles, and more impressively, the ways in which emotions gain momentum and collide until an eventual exhaustive peace arrives. The characters are so realistic at times that watching them becomes an afflictive process.

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Rabbit Hole is not by any means a comedic venture, nor is it inventive in its presentation, so in a sense it cannot easily be called entertaining in any conventional sense. Instead, using a bare-bones dramatic format reflective of the core emotions that the characters represent, Rabbit Hole provokes as it draws audience members through a dirge of intimate familiarities and empathy.

Rabbit Hole can be seen through July 22, 2007 at the Complex Theatre located at 6476 Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood. Call 323-960-7774 for tickets.

Photo by leunix via Flickr.