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“Rabbit Hole” by Pangdemonium Productions

May 1, 2013
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RabbitHoleProduction1(picture courtesy of Pangdemonium!)

Event: “Rabbit Hole” by Pangdemonium! Productions
Venue: DBS Arts Centre
Run: 25th April – 12th May 2013

Life Through the Looking Glass

Some might recall that Pangedmonium kicked off their 2012 season with a bang in the form of the edgy musical “Spring Awakening”, and while “Rabbit Hole” – their first production this year – doesn’t quite feature as large a cast nor carry any song and dance routines, it is by no means any less stellar.

Of course, a large part always begins with selecting the right material to work with – something which Pangdemonium has proven to have been able to do consistently well – but there is so much more to this than merely the script alone.

The play’s credentials can hardly be doubted, having won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, and playwright David Lindsay-Abaire tells of the struggles which a couple Howie and Becca (played by Adrian Pang and Janice Koh) face when trying to come to grips with the tragic death of their 4-year-old child Danny, who was killed in a car accident when he ran out onto the street one day to chase after his dog.

Further dimensions are added to the play in the form of Becca’s sister Izzy (played by Seong Hui Xuan), who happens to be pregnant and unmarried, and Becca’s mother Nat (played by Lok Meng Chue), who happened to have a drug-addict son who committed suicide at the age of 30, thus sharing a nebulous common link with Becca if only in that they both had to go through the agony of having lost their sons.

And of course, there is the looming figure of the teenager Jason (played by Eden Ang) – the one who unintentionally killed Danny – whom both Howie and Becca have to learn to face up to.

The play starts innocuously enough, with Izzy recounting to Becca a hilarious incident about how she recently got into a bar fight with another girl, and as the play progresses, we are slowly being informed, bit by bit, about the circumstances that surrounded the death of little Danny.

The death obviously gnaws away at Howie and Becca and hangs over their household, but each of them tries to cope with the grief differently.

Howie attempts to put Becca in the mood for love-making in the hope that they might try for another child, but Becca flat-out refuses.

Becca wants to sell the house so that she is no longer reminded of Danny’s presence which fills the entire house, but Howie does not seem as eager to do so.

Howie watches a video tape of Danny (the last video recording they had ever made of him) every night to remind himself of his son, and when he discovers that Becca had one day accidentally overwritten the tape recording, he flies into an absolute rage and accuses his wife of trying to intentionally erase the memories of Danny.

Becca seems open to having a proper chat with Jason when he unexpectedly pops into the house one afternoon to try to make amends, whereas Howie turns all confrontational and demands that Jason leave the house immediately.

The play does not attempt to provide any form of resolution to the couple’s ordeal, but what it does really well is to portray the nuances and subtleties in the way they try to seek closure.

Coming to terms with a child’s seemingly inexplicable death is never an easy thing, and at times you just want to clutch at whatever reason you can find to try and make sense of it all, and at other times you just want to keep only the best memories and yet be able to emotionally move on from it.

Adrian Pang and Janice Koh do marvellous justice to the script in their layered portrayal of the bereaved couple.

Seong Hui Xuan must also be singled out for her remarkable and thoroughly enjoyable rendition of the seemingly irresponsible, shoot-from-the-hip, but yet well-meaning sister.

I honestly felt that Hui Xuan nailed the role down to perfection, and played Izzy as well as anyone could have possibly played.

Lok Meng Chue throws every ounce of effort into the role of Nat, and while she seemed to struggle a bit with putting on a believable American accent, her enthusiasm and earnestness were never in question.

Overall, “Rabbit Hole” shines in many aspects of the production, and it’s hard to find much fault in it, apart from perhaps the suspect American accents.

It features a world-class script, impeccable acting, a beautifully-composed set, and cuts right to the deepest recesses of your heart, reminding you of the sheer power and life-affirming qualities of theatre.

It’s been almost four months into 2013 before Pangdemonium staged their first production for the year, but boy is it a cracker of a show.

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