Grief turns to art, comedy in upcoming play ‘Rabbit Hole’

Ben Fitch


That is Director Penny Weiner’s goal for tomorrow night’s play, Rabbit Hole. The intentions are evident in every facet of the meticulously-built set, which Lynn Wilson, scene shop supervisor, took a month to build.

The set is divided into three sections for the different scenes of the play. In each, they resemble a real house. The kitchen features a fridge, cabinets and table. The living room is complete with a couch and other common household items. And the third section of the set is built to resemble a child’s bedroom, which presumably belongs to Danny, the child, whose death spawns the entire theme of the play.

The actors will even be eating real food.

“After reading the script carefully,” said Weiner, “it seems that those details should be there.”

The script itself is written in a realistic nature. It is a story about coping with loss. The main character, Becca, played by Shanna Carlson, senior, loses her child, Danny. Her entire family is gripped with emotions of grief, and the play is about their attempts to move on.

“It’s never even said that Danny has died. It’s implied,” said Weiner. “The pain that the characters experience is very subtle.”

The theatre department put on the production in late June, and Weiner said she was apprehensive about doing it again during the semester. But after a pick-up rehearsal, things were ready to go again.

“I love it,” she said. “I’ve suffered enough loss in my life that it was something I wanted to look at. This play is about people dealing with loss and it added to my understanding of the idea that this is the kind of loss that you never make it back from. But the characters learn not just to manage, but to do better.”

The lighting, by Fernando Pezzino, is coordinated to create a feeling of disorientation.

“Things become kind of surreal,” said Weiner, “like moving through water or Jell-O.”

Weiner said there is much for the audience to look forward to, including the lighting, sound and the main character’s sister, Izzy, played by Heather Prescott, who provides the comedic relief.

“It’s a little bit of a wild ride,” she said, that should possibly evoke crying and laughter.

“Just remember to turn your cell phones off and get here on time,” Weiner said.

The show starts at 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. There will be a 2 p.m. showing on Sunday. Tickets are $5 per person and free to Washburn employees and students with a current ID.