Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings


Rabbit Hole

Sutton Arts Theatre


If you took one of David Lindsay-Abaires' other works, the book for Shrek The Musical, as the style reference and potential mood of Rabbit Hole, his 2007 Pulitzer winning play, then you might wonder if they were actually penned by two entirely different people.

Rabbit Hole is a very adult orientated work and the only monstrous ogre in the room here is the painful memory of the accidental death of a child. It’s set in New York inside the home of Becca and Howie. Life seems relatively normal but as things progress we begin to see that everyone is suffering under the shadow of grief.

Yet whilst the couple try to navigate their feelings around each other, Becca’s sister is casually now pregnant and her mother Nat nonchalantly reminds every one of her own struggle with the loss of her own adult son, in very different circumstances.

Emotions become tense and overflow when Jason, a young teenager who has caused the fatal accident, seeks solace with them to quell his own emotional demons.

Lindsay–Abaires approach to the drama is to keep them all in the same room over a period of months and watch how they develop and interact. It’s not an easy play to observe but there’s laughter and nervous laughter to be had as everyone does their best to move on from their loss.


Suzy Donnelly as Becca was crisp in her character’s ability, in at first visually appearing normal, going about her daily chores, until some intentional or unintended comment unearths her agony and her calm is broken sometimes into rage.

Her interactions with her pregnant sister, Izzy played by Janine Henderson, were fast paced and very natural. Their timing was perfect and the relationship was very believable.

Rob Laird played Howie with poise and understatement and you sensed early on his character’s patience with his wife’s grief yet quietly suffering in his own way. Howie is doing his best to return to a sense of normality; however you question his trust when a potential affair is revealed.

Alison Daly was Nat, the busy body mother, a woman keen on offering her advice in all the wrong places, yet breaking down when asked to help clear the child’s room of toys and mementos.

Every character seems to have their own mildly selfish agenda and there’s not much to like about them until the arrival of the nervous Jason, played by Chris McHugh.

Jason is the driver of the car in the fatal accident and riddled with guilt he comes to the house to connect with the family in an attempt to heal his own suffering. McHugh did a wonderful job at bringing out the compassion in them all with his innocent guilt, challenging any anger that lingered over his actions.

Directed skilfully by Louis Farmer and Faye Hatch the play manages to keep the lid on its emotions but leaves you with unsettling questions about the characters futures as to the possibility of everyone ever returning to a normal way of life. The action is played out on a well designed set and whilst Nicole Kidman may have received praise for her performance in the film version, there’s high quality right across the cast and production here in this subtle portrayal of grief. To 27-10-18

Jeff Grant


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