Elena Giannetti as Becca and Ron Ravensborg as Howie in Rabbit Hole
Photo by Act One, Too, Ltd
David Lindsay-Abaire's Pulitzer-Prize-winning Rabbit Hole tackles an extremely difficult subject -- the aftermath of the death of a child -- with rare grace.
"The writing is beautiful. There are a lot of layers, but it is simple. It is pretty straightforward, but there are so many layers you can dig in," says David Coral, who directs the Theatre in the Round Players production of the show, opening this weekend.
The work certainly has been attractive to local theaters. TRP's marks the third production in recent years, following successful turns at the Jungle and Workhouse theaters.
"The subject matter is universal," Coral says. "They are talking about a deceases son. That was the catalyst for these people to examine who they are and how they will get through a crisis. In their grief, they will come together or it will tear them apart. That happens in so many places in our lives, not just with the death of a child. In points of crisis and great change, how much can I count on you? That's what is at the heart of the play and that is why I was interested."
Casting the show was an important consideration. "I could have cast this five ways to Sunday with the people who came out to the audition," Coral says. "They were really great."
In the end, the company includes Elena Giannetti as Becca and Ron Ravensborg as Howie, the couple who lost their son, along with Rachel Finch, Linda Sue Anderson, and Kenny Martin II.
With Becca, "the tendency is to play her hard and somewhat cold, but I was looking for someone who had a soft center. I think that is what is at the heart of Becca. She has spent the last year putting up defenses and pushing people away. She is at a place where she needs to put some compassion back in her life," Coral says.
Howie's issues are different. He has spent the year since their son's death relying on various means of outside support. He has reached the point in his own journey where it is time to face his grief on his own feet. "It is a journey toward a sense of wholeness and self-reliance," Coral says.
One of the most difficult roles to fill was Jason, the teenager behind the wheel of the car that struck and killed Danny. The actor, Martin, is a senior in high school and fits in perfectly with the cast. "He is not trying to act anything. He is not pushing anything. He is very comfortable onstage."
Acting in an arena offers different challenges for the performers -- and the designers. A key part of the set is Danny's bedroom, which looms over the action from beginning to end. Different ideas were explored with set designer Peter W. Mitchell settling on one that represents what has happened to the family.
"It's a realistic play, but the set can have surrealistic qualities," Coral says. The set has a realistic great room, and then in one section it looks like a meteor went through the house. Danny's room is different than the rest of the set. The floorboards of the living room break away and dissolve into space. The house is broken. There is a hole in the house."
Friday through February 3
Theatre in the Round Players
245 Cedar Ave., Minneapolis
For information and tickets, call 612.333.3010 or visit online