As this is a new drama by the young writer known for Off-Broadway's quirky Kimberly Akimbo and Fuddy Meers, the thick emotions in this world premiere by Manhattan Theatre Club are cut with humor, suggesting glimmers of hope. Preview audiences since Jan. 12 have observed, however, that the absurdist flavor that Lindsay-Abaire previously proffered has been traded for something gentler and more domestic (no one speaks through a hand puppet, as one character did in Fuddy Meers).
The plot at hand concerns a life-shattering accident for parents Becca and Howie, played by Cynthia Nixon and John Slattery. The well-heeled Westchester couple is only eight months removed from the death of their young son. The grieving process is slow, and mother and father are still piecing their emotions together — and learning how to be husband and wife again.
Lindsay-Abaire stacks the emotional deck by populating the well-appointed suburban home (designed by John Lee Beatty) with Becca's lost-soul sister, Izzy, played by Mary Catherine Garrison, and brusque mother, Nat, played by Tyne Daly. Both Nat and Izzy arouse motherhood issues in emotionally stuck Becca. (Get out your handkerchiefs — sniffles echo throughout the Biltmore, and not because it's cold and flu season.)
* MTC bills the play 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."
According to MTC, "Becca (Nixon) and Howie Corbett (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 (Garrison), and their opinionated mother, Nat (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."
Rabbit Hole marks the Broadway debut of Lindsay-Abaire, a favorite writer of MTC, which presented his Fuddy Meers, Wonder of the World and Kimberly Akimbo Off-Broadway. Lindsay-Abaire is also currently working the Broadway-aimed musicals High Fidelity and Shrek. He is currently writing the screen adaptation of the novel "Inkheart" by Cornelia Funke for Newline Features, as well as a screen adaptation of Kimberly Akimbo for Dreamworks.
Daly last appeared on Broadway in 1992 in a revival of Chekov's The Seagull opposite Jon Voight, Laura Linney, and Ethan Hawke. She received the 1990 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her portrayal of Rose in Gypsy directed by Arthur Laurents. For her work in television, she won six Emmy Awards (four for "Cagney and Lacey," one for "Christy" and one "Judging Amy."
Gallagher previously appeared in David Lindsay-Abaire's Kimberly Akimbo both at MTC and at South Coast Repertory Theatre. He was nominated for a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for his performance in the show. He made his Off-Broadway debut at the age of 15 in Current Events, at MTC.
Garrison most recently appeared on Broadway in the Roundabout revival of Assassins (as Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme).
Nixon appeared on Broadway in The Women, The Last Night of Ballyhoo, Indiscretions (Tony nomination), Angels in America, The Heidi Chronicles, Hurlyburly and The Real Thing (simultaneously) and The Philadelphia Story. She is internationally known as Mirana on TV's "Sex and the City."
Slattery appeared on Broadway in Betrayal and Laughter on the 23rd Floor, and has appeared in five other MTC productions, including the original production of Richard Greenberg's Three Days of Rain in 1997. His recent television credits include the critically acclaimed series, "Jack and Bobby."
The creative team for Rabbit Hole includes John Lee Beatty (set design), Jennifer von Mayrhauser (costume design), Christopher Akerlind (lighting design), and John Gromada (sound design and original music).
The Biltmore Theatre is at 261 W. 47th Street.
For tickets or information, visit TeleCharge.com or call (212) 239-6200 or visit www.manhattantheatreclub.com.