By Lilian Harrington
By David Lindsay–Abaire
Directed by Mikayla Hosking
57 Misterton Street
Season: 24 March – 9 April. . Bookings can be made through TryBooking .com or phone 0417001292.
Brisbane is home to some exciting new theatre companies which are presenting high performance quality theatre in some of the quaintest of venues! Ad Astra is a new, emerging, creative, professional company; It has great plans to promote quality professional theatre and creative skills, in its small studio, (a converted industrial building), close to the city.
Directors Dan and Fiona Kennedy have seen a need in the market to help promote local professional theatre in Brisbane, and allow emerging and established actors to showcase their performance skills. This means that Brisbane audiences are now fortunate to witness the 2007 Pulitzer Award winning play “The Rabbit Hole” by American writer, David Lindsay–Abaire, in one of this company’s early productions for 2022.
This well written play is an honest, brave, and touching portrayal of grief, which it explores in a subtle and emotional way through the eyes of the grieving parents, Howie and Beca Corbett. The long lasting effects of grief are exposed in this production as the story tells of the profound loss and discomfort suffered by both parents and family. A situation some local families are very familiar with as they struggle with the sudden loss of family members, or other devastating recent events.
Rabbit Hole follows the heartbreaking story of Beca and Howie Corbett, played by Janelle Bailey and Stephen Hirst, who have recently lost their four year old son Dan, in a tragic road accident when he’d chased after the family dog onto the road; they have not coped well with their grief, so it has affected their relationship and other family. The audience witnesses their struggles as they journey through a range of emotions together and with their eccentric, left-of-Centre family, as they put the “heart’’ back together. The family is drawn together in both a good and bad way at this time, as they try to find a way to comfort and help Beca. The play highlighted how grief can lead to tension and misunderstood comments, unwanted gifts, surprises, quick tempered outbursts and uncomfortable meetings, all connected together by the skilled cast .
Stand out performances were given by Izzy ( Vanessa Moltzen) , playing Beca’s sister, who managed to give a genuine American perspective throughout, and Howie Corbett, (Stephen Hirst), the grieving and confused husband, who showed great emotional control and belief.
The production is designed in the round. This means that there can’t be any late comers as audience need to access their seats by walking through the stage set. Ad Astra is a boutique style theatre and does not cater for a larger crowd because space is limited.
The costume and sound effects were appropriate to the time and theme of the play, but the sound was overwhelming at first which was uncomfortable, however, it was faded down.
A few little technical hitches occurred at the beginning of Act 2, and delayed an otherwise fluent and robust performance. This didn’t deter some of the delightful contrasting moments in this production played out by tactless Nat, (Julia Johnson), as she dealt with her daughter’s grief, recalling how she felt when she lost her Archie, and Jason Willette, (Fraser Anderson), the student who had caused the fatal accident, when Beca allowed him a chance to talk to her.
This style of theatre directed by the innovative, Mikayla Hosking, which aimed to push the actors to work at a high standard, allowed for good creativity and skill of portrayal and gave audience a thought provoking production.