A staged reading in a studio theatre of an established script can be an interesting opportunity to strip everything down to the purest essence of theatre. With all the actors in proximity and a little to distract from voices and faces and person-to-person connections, the personal dynamics between individual characters become strikingly vivid. Actors deliver dialogue behind music stands with very little atmospheric embellishment. People, personalities and personal interactions are handed the tension of the audience’s full attention. David Lindsey-Abaire’s acclaimed drama Rabbit Hole gains a great deal from a staged reading format. This weekend the Sunset Playhouse delves into an intimate reading of the script. Director Donna Daniels has conscientiously aimed the entire staging at the actors and the characters they play.
Ruth Arnell is stunningly nuanced as Becca: the mother of a boy who was tragically killed in an auto accident. Arnell has got great sensitivity to complex intricacies of emotion. Arnell coaxes subtle characterization into the corners of her delivery of very intricately-written dialogue. There are quite a few reasons for me to take the journey to Elm Grove to see this show. Arnell's presence here is one of the more engaging reasons to do so.
Nicholas Callan Haubner is a relatively steady figure as her husband. His somewhat monolithic stage presence lends impressive gravity to the personality of someone who cannot afford to move on the from the loss of his son. Haubner is stern, bold and unmoving in contrast to Arnell’s restless discomfort with phantoms from the past. Haubner and Arnell have a strong connection at the center of the drama around which everything else seems to orbit.
Victoria Hudziak constructs a pleasantly out-of-focus energy for Becca’s scattered sister Izzy, who has recently become pregnant. Relationships between Becca and her mother are further defined in Izzy’s presence. Hudziak thoughtfully plays the muted depth of a character who might not be living up to her full potential...someone every bit as flawed as the rest of the cast and the rest of humanity.
Joyce Sponcia is charming as Becca and Izzy’s mother. She’s a woman lost in her own memories who surfaces for long enough to have a couple of truly honest moments with Becca. Sponica provides Arnell with just the right mixture of concern and loving antagonism to bring across a couple of sharp moments onstage.
Fresh faced Joey Chelius plays the high school kid who was tragically driving the car the killed the son of Becca and her husband. He’s hoping to make some sense of the guilt and bewilderment he’s going to be carrying with him for the rest of his life.
Sunset Playhouse’s staging of Rabbit Hole runs one weekend only. There are three performances left: 8:00 pm tonight (the 22nd)
8:00 pm on Saturday (the 23rd)
and 3:00 pm on the Sunday the 24th.
For ticket reservations and more, visit Sunset Playhouse online.