Halloween is a time to revel in all things spooky, scary and unnatural. But for most people the greatest fear is common, and grounded in reality: the fear of losing a loved one.
Rabbit Hole, a Pulitzer Prize winning play written by David Lindsay-Abaire, deals with the debilitating grief experienced by a family coping with the death of their four-year-old son.
This play is being brought to Montreal by director-actor Simon Anthony Abou-Fadel and actress Miranda Handford. Abou-Fadel has had an extensive background as a TV actor in Hollywood, with roles in shows like 24, Law and Order and Veronica Mars.
“I did TV in Hollywood and I was also a member of the actors’ gang […] I wanted to go into directing for a while and this will be my third play directing.”
Abou-Fadel and Handford play the parts of Howie and Becca, a married couple that recently lost their child in a car accident. Jean Nicolai plays the part of Izzy, Becca’s younger sister and Dawn Ford plays Nat; Becca and Izzy’s mother. Newcomer Jason Smiley completes the cast, playing the part of Jason Willette.
In Rabbit Hole every character is plagued by the question, “what if?”
What if Becca had latched the gate? What if Izzy hadn’t called Becca and distracted her? What if Howie had watched the dog? What if Jason had driven down any other street but theirs?
Haunted by their individual role in the tragedy, every character finds their own way to deal with their grief and guilt.
For many people Rabbit Hole is considered an almost therapeutic experience because it helps them deal with grief in their own lives.
Abou-Fadel says: “I dealt with grief in my family before, losing a brother at a young age. It’s a process, and it’s kind of always there. That is what attracted me initially to this play.”
Nicolai believes that the subject matter is universal, “I think it just touches on a fear that is so common, even if you haven’t experienced it yourself. It’s the biggest fear; to lose a child. Even if you haven’t lived it you can feel that fear.”
Fear is a key aspect of the play, and it was also a deciding factor with the actors who chose to tackle it:
“This play scared the crap out of me; I just had a son,” says Abou-Fadel with a smile, “but it was incredible. So I gave it to [Handford].”
“It took me two months to read it,” said Handford, “I was scared to read it too. I finally read it and agreed. Obviously we [had] to do it.”
A Hollywood movie adaptation starring Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart was made in 2010. Ford, the only cast member who watched the film, says that although it’s nearly identical to the play, watching it in theatre is an unrivaled experience, “the adaptation was very similar to the play, but a play is always so instant, you’re in it, you’re there, you’re with it—the impact is so much more with a play than with a movie.”
Abou-Fadel is very excited about the launch of this play in Montreal.
“It’s just a stellar cast, with some really seasoned actors. It’s a beast of a play, it’s gorgeous and it’s beautiful, we’re working hard to rise to the challenge.”
Rabbit Hole will run from Nov. 1 to 10 at the Free Standing Room – 4324 St. Laurent, suite 300.