Human, humane and populated by only five characters, the warm and funny tearjerker is a carrot that regional theatres are expected to grab at in coming seasons. Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Cleveland Play House are among American resident theatres that have already announced the play for 2006-07.
(Despite designer John Lee Beatty's massive, realistic, mechanical puzzle that spins on turntables to create a suburban home setting at the Biltmore, it's thought that the play allows for the possibility to be presented with a smaller, sparer design.)
Director Daniel Sullivan's well-reviewed production, produced by Manhattan Theatre Club, ends its limited engagement after 23 preview performances and 77 regular performances.
In Rabbit Hole, "Becca (Cynthia Nixon) and Howie Corbett (John Slattery) have everything they could want, until a life-shattering accident turns their world upside down, and leaves the couple drifting perilously apart. Becca, who must also cope with the distractions of her reckless sister Izzy (Mary Catherine Garrison), and their opinionated mother, Nat (Tyne Daly), takes solace in her unlikely friendship with a neighborhood teenager, Jason (John Gallagher, Jr.), who might provide the key to lead her back from the darkest of places." Lindsay-Abaire's play represents a stylistic departure for the author of the absurdity-pumped Fuddy Meers, Wonder of the World and Kimberly Akimbo.
Rabbit Hole is a more somber, realistic view of relationships, and the world. MTC bills it as "a bittersweet drama about finding hope in the lowest moments of our lives, and the paths we take to return to the light of day."
Some critics have praised Rabbit Hole as a crafty, architectural layering of personalities, conflicts and tensions (giving the actors and director an exhilarating mountain to climb), but other reviewers have said the work wanders into the territory of TV movies.
MTC audiences have embraced the production's sense of hope that emerges from a plot fraught with loss and uncertainty. Handkerchiefs and sniffles are evident by play's end.
Conor McPherson's Shining City begins at the Biltmore April 20 toward a May 9 opening.
For more information, visit www.ManhattanTheatreClub.com.