Thursday, March 8, 2012

Play puts audience on a 'rollercoaster of emotions'

By Kelsey Hilmes, Guest Writer

Rabbit Hole won’t take you to Wonderland, but it will take you on a journey of lightheartedness, grief and compassion.

The show will be presented by the Theatre Department as the second of three faculty-produced shows this year.

Director and Professor of Theatre Brian Desmond selected Rabbit Hole for his last show at PLU. The show tells the story of a husband and wife struggling to deal with grief after their young son dies in an accident.

“I chose this play because it’s a contemporary American drama,” Desmond said. “It presents different kinds of challenges for the actors.”

Rabbit Hole by David Lindsay-Abaire won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 2007 and was released as a movie in 2010, according to the School of Arts and Communication brochure.

The cast of Rabbit Hole is small, featuring only five roles.

First-year Mitchell Helton said faculty-produced shows are usually more inclusive, but an exception was made for Rabbit Hole.

It is not often PLU produces contemporary dramas. Desmond said the cast, crew and design team meet regularly for table talks to discuss the show, an unusual practice for PLU theater.

“Preparation for this show takes more than what the typical light comedy would,” Desmond said.

Rabbit Hole is the Theatre Department’s contribution to the SOAC Focus Series on compassion, which began this year as a project to bring together the Theatre Department, Music Department, Communication Department and Art & Design Department around the series’ theme.

"Ultimately, as Rabbit Hole so beautifully demonstrates, compassion for ourselves and for each other makes us stronger,” Desmond said.

Assistant Director and Stage Manager senior Mark Rud called the show an “emotional powerhouse. It is by far the most realistic show I’ve done.”

Helton said the audience will relate to the characters.

“I think if the audience is willing to go to those places with us and lose themselves in the show they’re going to be able to find a moment where they relate,” Helton said. “You can find so much of yourself in these characters.”

The characters aren’t the only relatable part of the show.

Senior Abigail Pishaw, who plays Nat, said the set of Rabbit Hole helps audiences connect to the show in a special way.

The set features a living room, a kitchen and a complete staircase leading to a second floor.

“We built such a big set mainly because the script calls for it,” Rud said. “The show is grounded in realism and we want the audience to be sitting in the house with this family as they deal with their grief.”

Despite the theme of compassion, there is a lighter side to the production.

“It’s a heavy show, but it’s laced with lightheartedness,” Helton said. “It’s like a rollercoaster of emotions, the lows are low but the highs are very high. I want them [the audience] to find the humor and the sadness.”

Rabbit Hole opened Thursday and runs March 9-10 and March 16-17 at 7:30 p.m. in Eastvold's Studio Theater.

There will also be a matinee March 18 at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $5 with a PLU ID and $8 for general admission.