Rabbit Hole has been turned into a feature film starring Aaron Eckhart, Sandra Oh, and Nicole Kidman. It's trailer is online. David Lindsay-Abaire's play won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize.
Title: Rabbit Hole
Writer: David Lindsay-Abaire
Draft Date: N/A Pages: 61 Genre: Drama
Time Period: Present Location: Suburbia
Logline: A suburban family deals with loss of a child and the arrival of another.
Act I: The script starts out with IZZY recapping a story to her sister BECCA. Through excellent dialogue we learn that Izzy is pregnant and that Becca has lost a child, although the former not directly. The story continues to Becca and her husband HOWIE debating on how to get rid of, or not get rid of, their lost son Danny. This includes a monologue by the accidental killer, naive 17 year old JASON, who doesn’t appear until the second act. We also learn that Becca’s mother, NAT, has also lost a child—Art. Art is, obviously, Becca and Izzy’s brother. He was also a drug addict.
There is something to be said about the way Abaire introduces his characters. Izzy is introduced through a fight she got into in a bar. It’s a perfect story for her character—she’s someone who is not afraid to go to the heart of an issue. Becca’s response to the story is perfect for her’s—she’s a character of rules, of regulations, which form most of the conflict: everyone saying things against Becca's rules. Also, in this introductory scene, Becca is folding clothes for her lost son, Dan. She has baked very high end confections. This goes on throughout the story as Abaire shows us how settled into motherhood she was—she bakes well, folds well, and loves making homes. In fact, her love of things related to “home” form her major desire: to move.
Howie, her husband, is a very torn man. He seems to struggle with the patriarchal paradigm that dictates he must be the strong one, he must be the rock to get them through this. Although he is obviously hurting, it’s not until his private moments that he shows this. Until the second act.
Act II: The second act starts with a reversal of the first act. Becca, grocery shopping with Nat, has gotten into a fight. She smacked a woman in the grocery store because of her lack of appreciation for her son. The retelling happens at the end of an open house where we meet Jason for the first time. The entrance of this source of tragedy propels Howie to finally unleash his emotions. Also, during this open house, Izzy informs Howie that they’ll never be able to sell the house if they don’t clean up Danny’s room, as it attracts too much attention to something so negative. Becca and Nat end up cleaning out Danny’s room which, naturally, brings up negative emotions from Becca; a scene that questions her commitment to her relationship with Howie, not on a fidelity level but something more emotional. And, without Howie knowing, Becca sees Jason, who provides the only out rightly optimistic look that we get in the play. The final scene is between Becca and Howie, one that ends on a high note, but a vague one.
Abaire does a great job creating symmetry between the two acts to show how our characters have changed. It’s clear by the end that our characters have gone through an arc but, whether or not it’s positive or negative is left ambiguous.
The nebulous ending is something that is justified in this case. This play functions more as a case study in grieving—how we all deal with it differently—and how it can affect our personal relationships, rather than a structured narrative. Abaire shows us how there’s no sense in investing so much in the future, like Becca did by becoming an incredible housewife, or by living so much in the past, like what Howie has been doing by holding on to whatever part of Danny he can. In fact, the best advice comes from the source of tragedy itself: Jason. When Jason informs Becca of the infinite opportunities for optimism to exist in our universe, it breathes fresh air into her. Also, when Howie skips his therapy group, and hears the news of how he and Becca are going out, together, to see people and exist in this world outside their house, he regains his composure, he regains his pride, as he and Becca decide to take life day by day. It seems Abaire is telling us that freedom from grief can be found by coming to peace with the source of tragedy and then moving on—one day at a time.
As Abaire outlines in his notes "Rabbit Hole is not a tidy play." It's a hard play to swallow but this causes us to focus more on it's craftsmanship. It's clear that it's dialogue is incredibly placed and planned. This is a play that has been slaved over and it's reward has come in a well deserved Pulitzer Prize.
Writer: Strong Recommend.
Script: Strong Recommend.