Play Analysis: “Rabbit Hole”

David Lindsay-Abaire’s, Rabbit Hole, tells the story of mourning and accepting loss and answers the question of what happens after a tragedy has stricken. Married couple, Becca and Howie are coping with the loss of their son, Danny, after a chase after his dog ends with him getting hit by a car driven by a seventeen-year-old. 

Lindsay-Abaire interestingly made the decision to begin the play some time after the accident has already occurred. Becca and Howie are learning to cope alongside each other while accepting the fact that they each are experience different expressions of loss and find conflict with each other because of this as one’s way of coping seems more like dancing around the situation to the other. Although categorized as a tragedy, the play seems to take a much deeper approach to the subject and focuses on the aftereffects of tragedy and the difficulties that come with it are oftentimes much harder than the tragedy in itself. It’s beautifully tragic the way these characters interact with each other, and the brief moments of comedy act more of a bitter humor rather than a form of comedic release, creating an even more emotionally pulling set of dialogue. 

By definition, the play doesn’t necessarily present itself as a tragedy as the play isn’t focusing on Danny’s death but more on the ways Howie and Becca are dealing with these series of emotion together and on their own. However, the end of the play (Act 2 Scene 2) displays Becca and Howie in an extremely vulnerable moment with each other where they not only accept Danny’ death after having parted with his possessions, but they also show each other the fear of moving forward in their lives as they must discover what exactly they wish to do now. That ending itself serves as a closing to the play and also brought the debate of tragedy back full-circle. 

The ending can be taken in multiple ways, it can be seen as acceptance and a sense of connection between the married couple as they decide they wish to move forward together despite the unsure feeling of what their future holds. The other interpretation is the image of Becca and Howie sitting together, looking into each other’s eyes, and sharing in this fear for their lives onward because they now have packed up the physical presence of Danny and must now decide what comes next for the two of them. It is almost as tragic as the accident itself and may very well be the deciding factor on how the play can be viewed as a tragedy. 

Throughout the play characters are rarely given more than a line every time they speak and despite that, there is much presented in the tone and quick, sharp remarks they give each other, especially in moments of anger and sadness. The brief interactions between character is genuinely realistic and depicts strong moments of silence when nothing needs to be said and yet the silence is all that needs to be said in order to close those conflicts and emotional conversations. 

Despite its years, the play is easily able to place itself in present time as the plot follows a set of individuals that can easily be detected in reality especially considering the topics the play touches on that are present today. It is a fairly short play and is nothing short of a beautifully written tragedy. 


This play is available for purchase here

The film adaptation is also available for viewing on various streaming services (Amazon Prime, Hulu, iTunes, etc.).