Rabbit Hole at Hampstead Theatre
“If you want to write a good play, write about the thing that frightens you most in the world.” After becoming a father, Rabbit Hole author David Lindsay-Abaire found the inspiration to take his teacher’s earlier advice. Moving away from his usual realm of absurdist comedy, Rabbit Hole is the first of his naturalistic plays and, written in 2006, explores the lives of a married couple in the months following the loss of their four-year-old son.
Hampstead Theatre’s production invites the audience into the intimate living area of the family, so close that we feel a part of the scenario ourselves. It soon becomes clear that although the couple and their family are attempting to carry on their lives as normal eight months on, there is an underlying tension that has shaken their very roots. It is this attempt at normality, regularly interspersed with humour, that makes the play relatable and not too much of a heavy watch.
That being said, there are moments when the audience is overcome with the sheer pain of the loss that has touched this family. We watch as the strength of the couple’s relationship is challenged, both struggling in different ways in the wake of a tragedy that no one is ever taught how to cope with. We see how they are tested by the pregnancy of the wife’s younger sister and the arrival of the young man that was driving the car that killed their son. The cast is phenomenal, in particular Claire Skinner and Tom Goodman-Hill who play the parents, ensuring that all eyes in the room are glued to their on-going struggle.
A heart-wrenching modern tragedy with regular reminders that events like this can happen at any time but that life goes on, Rabbit Hole is an absolute must-see this month.
Rabbit Hole is on at Hampstead Theatre from 29th January until 5th March 2016, for further information or to book visit here.