In this scene from the "Rabbit Hole," Jason, played by Devin Bacon, center, confronts family members grieving for a child that he accidentally hit with his car. Family members include, from left, the child's father Howie, played by Charles Swartout; the boy's mother Becca, acted by Amy LeCates; the child's Aunt Izzy, played by Vanessa Outlaw; and grandmother Nat, played by Josie Lawson.
Everyone grieves differently, and in the upcoming production of "Rabbit Hole," audiences will watch as a small group of characters wades into the aftermath of the death of a young child, each person struggling in his own way.
David Lindsay-Abaire wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning play in 2005, and in 2010 it became a movie starring Nicole Kidman and Dianne Weist. Now "Rabbit Hole," the heart-wrenching story of a couple whose 4-year-old boy dies after being hit by a car, comes to Conyers, courtesy of the New Depot Players community theater group.
Directed by Jay Tryall, "Rabbit Hole" runs at 8 p.m. March 7 to 9 and March 14 to 16, and 3 p.m. March 10 and 17, at Center Street Arts, 910 Center St. in Olde Town Conyers. Tickets are $20 for general admission and $16 for seniors and students. Tickets to preview night, 8 p.m. March 6, are $8.
The story centers on Becca and Howie, and their emotional journey eight months after their son, Danny, runs out into the road to chase the family dog and is accidentally struck and killed by a teenage driver. Becca reacts by focusing on packing up Danny's possessions and selling the house. Howie is angry and depressed and accuses his wife of trying to erase Danny.
Meanwhile, Becca's unwed sister is pregnant, causing even more tension in the household.
The voice of reason for the family is Becca's mother, who lost her son, a heroin addict, to suicide at age 30.
The teen driver also interacts with the family, as he presents them with a fictional story about rabbit holes in Danny's memory.
Tryall said he "fell in love with" the production when he first saw it in Atlanta, and he found the writing "real and alive," inspiring him to mount the show locally.
"It's a touching drama, where you do not really realize that these characters have changed and grown until the show is over, and you see the slight adjustments that each one has made," Tryall said in an email interview.
The seriousness of the work also offered a welcome departure to recent past productions he has directed, Tryall said.
"It's something that people do not expect of Jay Tryall, director of 'The Great American Trailer Park Musical,'" he said.
Tryall said he discussed with cast members experiences they had with the loss of loved ones and how they've witnessed others handling similar situations.
"Just like grief and tragedy, this play will hit everyone in a different way," Tryall said. "Some people will completely see the sadness and anger at the loss of a child, some will see what the future can possibly be. It gives you the chance to feel different emotions."
Tryall said while "Rabbit Hole" is most decidedly depressing, the story is also hopeful.
"It is life," Tryall said. "After we lose someone important to us, the world does not change. Maybe we have a paradigm shift ourselves, but the world does not stop turning. We still find things to smile about, laugh at, people to love on.
"There are touching moments in the show, but there is also laughter, sadness, joy and possibility."