Rabbit Hole | Sweeney Todd

Don’t look for Alice in Wonderland in Rabbit Hole, the profound and heartbreaking new play by David Lindsay-Abaire. The title may hint at Lewis Carroll-and, indeed, a certain Mad Hatter absurdity is what you might expect from this ingenious dramatist, whose previous works featured quirky happenings and far-fetched situations. But Lindsay-Abaire’s first Broadway outing turns out to be a beautifully controlled piece of realism that tells a harrowing story about loss and healing. There may be a looking-glass reality here, but it’s the reality of grief.

Earlier this year, the Manhattan Theater Club production received substantial media attention for its casting coup: the show stars Cynthia Nixon, best known for portraying the lawyer Miranda on HBO’s Sex and the City. In Rabbit Hole, she plays Becca, a suburbanite who’s struggling to recover, along with her yuppie husband Howie (John Slattery), from the accidental death of the couple’s four-year-old son. As she drifts through a house still rife with painful reminders-baby clothes, toys, even the family dog-Becca finds herself alienated from Howie, trapped in her own isolating sorrow. Meanwhile, despite good intentions, Becca’s loud-mouthed mother Nat (Tyne Daly) and ditzy sister Izzy (Mary Catherine Garrison) only make the situation more agonizing.

Lindsay-Abaire’s earlier plays also showcased beleaguered female characters. Fuddy Meers, his zany breakout...

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About the Author

Celia Wren is Commonweal’s media and stage critic.