Whenever I fork out money to catch a Pangdemonium production, I know it’ll be money well spent. Even with this heightened sense of expectation, I was not disappointed by their latest offering – The Rabbit Hole. In fact, I left the theatre an even bigger fan than when I entered.
This Pulitzer Prize-winning play is a richly layered exploration of one couple’s journey through the aftermath of their young son, Danny’s untimely death. Howie and Becca – played by Adrian Pang and Janice Koh respectively – are equally distraught and heartbroken, but are unable to find comfort in each other. Howie desperately tries to find solace in a support group, while Becca turns to her brash but well-meaning mother and sister for answers. There are no easy answers, however, as the couple soon discovers. As they stumble between the various stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and even acceptance), you’ll soon find yourself identifying with the characters’ very human emotions and actions.
For me, that bittersweet moment of poignancy hit during a particularly moving scene between Becca and her mum (played by Lok Meng Chue.) As they reminisce over Danny’s childhood, a tearful Becca asks, “Does it [the pain] ever go away?” Her mother then says something that had me nodding along furiously while tears flooded my eyes.
“No, but it changes. At some point, it becomes bearable. It turns into something that you can crawl out from under and carry around like a brick in your pocket. And you … you even forget it, for a while. But then you reach in for whatever reason and – there it is. Oh right, that. Which could be awful … but not all the time. It’s not that you like it exactly, but it’s what you have instead of your son, so you don’t wanna let go of it either. So you carry it around.”
At first glance, The Rabbit Hole may seem like an “emo” play that will leave you feeling depressed. Quite the contrary. It’s actually a an illustration of the indomitable human spirit, and the power of familial love – love that can be messy, complicated and yes, even painful, but as vital to human existence as breathing is.
The Rabbit Hole is currently playing till 12 May at DBS Arts Centre. Get your tickets at Sistic now.
Note: The opinions here are the reviewer’s own. Pangdemonium Productions did not pay for the review.
About The Author: Vanessa Tai is a founder of Material World who has previously worked on magazines Simply Her and Cosmopolitan Singapore. Now a freelance writer and a full-time contributor to this website, the 26-year-old dreams of attending every single major music festival before she turns 30. Follow her on Twitter @VannTaiTweets.