David Lindsay-Abaire’s “Rabbit Hole” was just performed by the J-DHS Drama club on the stage of Jamesville-DeWitt High School on November 12 and 13. This show was full of emotion, wit, and enough sadness to make even the most stone cold-hearted person leave in tears. The show itself pulls on your heart strings and makes you enter a world of grief.
The show centers around a young couple, Becca and Howie, who have recently lost their four-year-old son in a car accident. Becca, played by senior Becca Fitzgerald, still has not fully grieved the loss of her son and many of her close family are starting to see that, as well as herself. Howie, played by senior Max Oppedisano, is getting frustrated with Becca’s unwillingness to truly grieve for their son. Becca’s younger sister, Izzy, played by freshman Paloma Arena, is the wild child of the two, one could say. She gets in fights, has a rather large mouth, and actually becomes pregnant as Becca is still grieving the loss of her only son. Nat, Becca’s mother, played by junior Stephanie Lynne, is a somewhat overbearing mother. She, as well as many other characters in the show, feels that Becca has not truly dealt with her grief, so she pushes Becca to begin to look at her situation more clearly. The final character introduced in this play is Jason, played by junior Ethan Millea. Jason is the person who indirectly killed Becca and Howie’s son. He is just looking for a relationship with Becca and her family because of the guilt he feels about what happened to their son. This leads to a couple of very heated moments in the play. These characters are very complex and interesting, so I enjoyed watching them unfold along with the story.
The show was directed by two students, junior Anka Chiorini and senior Sam Phillips, and only had five main actors. It was a relatively small cast, but they all seemed to enjoy working with one another. “We had two amazing performances and I’m just so proud of everyone! It was a great start to the year and I’m truly going to miss it,” says Lynne about her first show onstage for the past one and a half years. As her J-D directorial debut has come to a close, Chiorini says this about the play, “I’m so proud of our insanely talented cast who performed their hearts out last weekend. This was one of the most amazing experiences that I’ve had at J-DHS and I’m so excited to continue to work with the drama club in the spring!” Her co-director Sam Phillips expressed how happy he was with the actor’s performances and how well they worked through the hard material. “The actors and directors all had a great time making this show what it was, a great success!”
This production of this play was an interesting one, straying away from a traditional play or musical where the audience is sitting in the pit of the auditorium. The artistic directors felt that it would allow for a more authentic experience to have the audience be on stage with the actors, being close enough to the story that you felt like you were in it. Being able to see everything going on in the play allowed for audience members to see every facial expression (even though they were wearing masks), every body language movement, every intense moment right up close. It made it feel real and that was a portion of the production that really intrigued and excited me as I was watching.
The actors all did a phenomenal job portraying these deeply flawed characters. All of the actors had moments where they could really shine and that was very clear right from the beginning. The first scene itself showed how great the acting skills were. It was a rather long scene, so the actors had to know exactly what they were going to do next, which they most certainly did. Because this play had some very dramatic and tense moments, the actors needed to really step into their character’s shoes and paint those feelings and emotions clearly so the audience could really feel the tension. There was one scene in particular that had me tense up in my seat. Becca, Howie, Nat, and Izzy were all sitting in their kitchen as Jason walks into their house. Howie got very angry and kicked him out very abruptly and harshly. I could feel the tension in the auditorium and I know everyone else could too.
Something that I did see pose an issue was a couple of moments at the beginning of the second act of the play. It somewhat slowed down. I felt as though the story sort of took a pause from being super dramatic and was just a normal story about a family and their struggles. They also introduced some plot points that were not really explored further and I sort of thought to myself, I wonder why they really felt like they needed to include that part. While these points were few and far between, it still posed an issue in my mind of the flow of the play. The first half in its entirety was very pointed and interesting. Some of the second act just sort of didn’t meet the expectations that I had from the first half.
Overall this play was one of the best I’ve seen from the J-DHS Drama Club. It had emotion, comedy, and lots of difficult themes, but it truly was enjoyable to watch. Every actor had their part down and you could tell from the very beginning that it was going to be a great play. I can’t wait to see what the J-DHS Drama Club has to offer in the future.