Down the ‘Rabbit Hole’ at the Marion Art Center

Aug 16, 2022

MARION — Loss and grief are central themes in the Marion Art Center’s production of “Rabbit Hole,” but so is hope, said director Kate Fishman. 

“It’s not just a play about grief. I think that’s too simplistic,” said Fishman, who is also the chair of the theater committee at the MAC. “It’s about a family who is going through something together, and they really are supporting each other.”

“Rabbit Hole” follows a family who lost their 4-year-old son, Danny, in a tragic accident. The mother, Becca, played by Kristen Russell, and her husband, Howie, played by Jacob Sherburne, each deal with their grief differently. 

Sherburne, whose own son is featured as Danny in a video clip on stage, faces a complex challenge with his performance as a grieving father. 

“Whatever it is to use your own life experience, but also separate it — it can, on one hand, be potent and, on the other hand, be a distraction,” he said. “But if the moments of genuineness float in, I’ll take them as a gift and move on.”

Grandmother Nat, played by Suzie Cokkins, and sister Izzie, played by Melissa Bessey, round out the family unit, supporting their loved ones while also acting as a reminder of what was lost.

“One of the reasons I wanted to do this play is because there’s a lot of light in it,” said Fishman. “I’ve directed my actors to find those periods where being a family is more important than the grief — where they laugh with each other, where they reach each other.”

Jack Staier, 23, is the youngest member of the cast and plays Jason, a 17-year-old boy who accidentally hit Danny with his car. A periodic presence in the grieving family’s life, he is the “veteran” of the cast, having acted since he was eight. 

Off stage, the actors in “Rabbit Hole” said that the MAC has been a supportive place to develop as performers. 

“The best part about it is that the cast gets to know each other,” said Cokkins, who has done one other show at the MAC. 

In addition to performing in “Rabbit Hole,” the actors have other day-to-day commitments like work or school.

Bessey is a teacher during the school year. Russell works in a hospital during the day and runs a business consulting for medical marajuana licenses. Sherburne, a teacher, also acts in commercials as the “BayCoast Bank Patriot.”

“It’s the nature of the beast that if something comes up in someone’s personal life, there’s workarounds,” said Sherburne. “Everybody’s willing to step up and step back as needed,” added Staier.

See “Rabbit Hole” at the Marion Art Center on Aug. 26, 27, 28, and Sept. 9, 10 and 11. Friday and Saturday shows start at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday matinees start at 2 p.m. Tickets are $18 for members and $20 for non-members.