A few years ago, a couple I became friends with in my MA program lost their daughter in the second trimester. It was highly traumatic, and they struggled with the fallout for a long time, even after they got pregnant with their first son. In the midst of this process, they went to see the film adaptation of David Lindsay-Abaire’s play Rabbit Hole and said they found it cathartic. I still haven’t seen the film with Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart, but I’ve been meaning to read more contemporary drama. So, in the midst of my National Theatre reading binge, I picked up this play.
This play is set over a few months, about 8 months since the incident. Becca and Howie are a couple grieving the sudden loss of their son Danny. Becca’s free-spirited sister Izzy has been using Danny’s death as a cover for her irresponsible behavior and now must come to terms with her own surprise pregnancy. Then there’s Jason, the seventeen-year-old driver of the car that hit Danny, seeking forgiveness that he doesn’t even think he deserves. Their lives collide in interesting and unexpected ways, as time moves forward without warning.
Because this is a play, obviously there’s not a lot of “rising” or “falling” action. The play is poignant without being saccharine, and I think that’s important. There’s no BIG MOMENT of epiphany, but lots of smaller reckonings, smaller meltdowns, and smaller moments of normalcy. And this is how grief operates. Your life stops and starts and stops and starts again, and before too long, you realize that you’ve forgotten simple things about your loved one. While Rabbit Hole may not be the best play that I’ve read, it certainly rang true in many ways to my own experience with grief.