by John Stoehr
Few theater companies make me think about Aristotle, but this one did.
I saw Rabbit Hole staged by PURE Theatre on Nov 24. It’s about a married couple trying to cope with the accidental death of their young son. That’s it.
The story, written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Lindsay-Abaire, has no turns, no twists, no end-runs. All you see is two people pretending to get along, then not get along, then be reminded of their son’s death by the pregnancy of the kid’s aunt.
Then throw in a somewhat loony grandmother obsessed with the untimely deaths of the Kennedy clan. The heaviness and gloom and sense of individual destruction are enough to steer you clear of the whole thing. Or so you would think.
As the ancient Greek philosopher mused in his Poetics, tragedy, like comedy, has its own kind of aesthetic pleasure. Though it wasn’t cathertic, Rabbit Hole was riveting.
The play’s protagonists — realized skillfully by Sharon Graci and David Mandel as the grieving parents — are a joy. Like watching the sun set over a barren landscape, the pleasure of Rabbit Hole comes from witnessing the subtle changes of light, color, and texture. If it wasn’t virtuosic, it was pretty damn close.
The show continues on Dec. 6-8. For more information, go to www.puretheatre.org.