David Lindsay-Abaire’s “Rabbit Hole” marks the beginning of the Pollard Theatre’s 25th season: Seasons of Legacy. W. Jerome Stevenson expertly directs this award winning play, bringing a great cast to the fore. As a student at Julliard, Abaire was advised to write of his greatest fear. Some years later, as a parent, he realized his greatest fear and nightmare is the loss of a child. “Rabbit Hole” was born bringing to the stage a universality that is unquestionable. The play follows grieving parents as they try to put some life together after the accidental death of their young son, Danny. The heartbreak is realized on many levels and at different stages. Stevenson has put together a cast that understands this dread and is able to share the loss as though it were their own.
Michael Edsel and Jodi Nestander tear out the primal souls of each audience member, yet leave us intact with hope for a future. These two portray Howie and Becca Corbett, a typically loving middle class couple who are coping with the recent loss of their beloved 4 year old son, Danny. Howie Corbett takes some comfort from the most recent tape of Danny, film taken while he and Danny play with the dog Taz in the backyard. Edsel’s response to the voice of Danny (Eli Wright Fortney) is poignant. Howie also grieves the loss of the dog, as Becca Corbett is unable to tolerate the dog’s presence and Taz now lives with her mother. Nestander has a complete grasp of Becca Corbett’s inability to discuss their loss. Crystal Ecker is excellent as the wacky sister Izzy, whose pregnancy is welcomed by the family, but nevertheless, hard to accept. Linda McDonald’s sensitive portrayal of mother Nat reveals her own insensitivity and helplessness masterfully. Dalton Thomas plays Jason Willette, the young man at the wheel of the car that killed a child. He knows it is an accident, the Corbett’s know it is an accident, yet Thomas is able to convey Willette’s inescapable guilt.
Technically “Rabbit Hole” is staged and lighted naturally and comfortably. The home atmosphere Stevenson and James A. Hughes create is ideal. Costumes are simple and reflect the characters the actors present accurately.
“Rabbit Hole” is quite difficult to watch. Because of the subject matter, some audience members may have a difficult time, yet most will find this an extremely valuable experience.
“Rabbit Hole” is presented at The Pollard Theatre through September 17, 2011. The Pollard is located at 120 W. Harrison in downtown Guthrie, Oklahoma. Ticket information is available online at www.thepollard.org or by calling 405.282.2800 during box office hours: Tuesday through Saturday from 10 to 5.
The purpose of this site and the purpose of my affiliation with The Oklahoman is to inform readers, as accurately unbiased as I can, about the performance quality of a production. When a show is not up to par and violates all expectations, I must remember my obligation. My inclination is to be nice. My obligation is to be honest. Brutal honesty is not required, although it is supposed to be more fun. It is not. When the show is not up to reasonable standards of public performance all honesty is brutal and never fun. For anyone. And then the following evening comes a show that exceeds all expectations. Honesty has its own reward.
There are a lot of new shows coming up this fall, and beginning in August look for reviews for “Rabbit Hole” at the Pollard and “Bikinis” at Jewel Box. Carpenter Square Theatre will be located at 800 West Main in downtown Oklahoma City and kicks off the season with a fundraiser, Friday, August 19th. Carpenter Square’s Best of 10 includes awesome ‘shorts’ or 10-minute plays as part of the Fundraiser Entertainment and is shaping up to be a fun and entertaining evening as well as very important to Carpenter Square continuing at the new location with the excellent productions they have offered Oklahoma City patrons since 1984. For more information, call 405.232-6500.
Friday night and Stereodeck is back at Dan McGuinness in Edmond. This show was again, outstanding. Guitarist, Matt Crossno is always excellent and in performance his emotional renditions capture the audience. For several songs during the second or third set he asked his brother to play instead, and WOW! Justin Crossno has a different style although he exhibits the same strong and raw talent full of emotion. However, Justin’s music displays a very 60′s feel. The baby boomers in the audience were not the only ones to appreciate those numbers with Justin. It is quite interesting to see how these two brothers grew and developed into superb guitarists and yet have such distinctive styles. Justin is part of the Joel Wilson Band which is a country group. This, we gotta check out!
While Matt is the perfect guitarist for Stereodeck, it’s a lot of fun when Justin doesn’t have a gig and can sit in for a few numbers. Not only is his sound great, but Matt’s return is absolutely awesome. Thanks guys! Everybody had fun, and everybody danced!
A single flash and a moment becomes frozen in memory. With that moment an impact is made. Devastating or delightful, monumental or miniscule, that flash becomes an unforgettable imprint. The Ghostlight Theatre Club production “Still Life” tells the story of a young woman who has spent her life capturing those elusive impressions for others through her photography, yet has not been able to create a picture of life for herself. Her meeting with Jeffrey comes just as he is being forced to look at life for himself and together, they take their only shots at life and immortality. One flashing moment of immortality.
Author Alexander Dinelaris gives us a script that forces the audience to think as well as react. Director Christi Newbury takes a journey through this play with Jeni White as Carrie Ann, the talented photographer and David Mays as Jeffrey, a disillusioned trends analyst. These two actors provide the level of experience and creativity this touching play requires. Ian Clinton’s portrayal of Terry the typically selfish jerk of a boss is a perfect counterpoint. Anne Holloway as Joanne is very good as mentor to Carrie Ann as well as is Chris Crane as her father, Theo. Additional commanding performances are given by Jason McKelvy as Sean, Jeff’s friend and Kayli Anne Warmker as the young student photographer of Joanne’s that Carrie Ann in her turn mentors. TooToo Cirlot is delightful whether she is Lena, Nina or Sandra and Robyn Mitchell is excellent as Mary, Al and Michaeline.
Ghostlight has a small stage with a minimalist set for most productions. Dinelaris has written an ideal piece for this environment with numerous small scenes that are defined by lighting only. While the lighting designer for this production, Scott Hynes, does a very nice job of designating adequate areas for the actors within the small stage, the actors look as if they feel restricted by the space. Perhaps as they grow a little more into their roles they will look more natural within their confines. Newbury’s direction of the characters is perfect; it is only in this area that she should be providing additional help.
The climax of the play however, seems slightly anti-climactic. The final scene beyond the dialogue lacks one important aspect: Still life. “Still Life” the play has it, the production does not. A very small thing, indeed. The last shot taken in a slow fade to final blackout is too abrupt and too rapid. The audience needs to see that shot as an imprint—one flashing moment of immortality. That very small nit-picking criticism can make or break this production for the audience. Take it a bit slower. Give her the shot and make the show memorable.
“Still Life” is being shown at Ghostlight Theatre Club, 3110 N. Walker Avenue in the Paseo District of Oklahoma City. Shows start at 8pm through August 27, 2011. Visit www.ghostlightokc.com or call 405.286.9412 for information.