By ROGER SMITH

As the country's first permanently established professional theatre, founded in 1915, The Cleveland Play House has produced plays for 91 years.

More than 12 million people have attended over 1,300 productions at The Cleveland Play House, more than 130 of which were American and/or world premieres. At 300,000 square feet, the Philip Johnson-designed Cleveland Play House complex housed five performance spaces, making it the largest regional theatre complex in the United States.

The Play House has begun it's 91st season with the mounting of -Rabbit Hole,- the most acclaimed drama of last year's Broadway season. The play focuses on Becca and Howie, parents who have suffered the ultimate loss - - the accidental death of their 4-year-old-son. The play deals with the attempts of the parents and their extended family to deal with this 'out-of-natural-order' event in their lives.

One might think that the play could be nothing but morose and dark, but I found myself laughing out loud at some points while I felt sorrow for the family. More than comic relief, the funny parts of the play left one in the moment of the show but allowed a viewer to recognize grasping and anger along with warmth and humor in the script. As the production progressed through the second act, one saw not only the coming apart of the family but the reunification that occurred.

-Rabbit Hole- is a well-done show, touching emotions and demanding rapt audience attention throughout the evening. It is very well written and very well acted. This offering on the stage of the Drury Theater is one not to be missed.

The Cleveland Play House is one of only two theaters in the country that have been given the rights to do this play. -Rabbit Hole- will continue through Oct. 8. Tickets may be reserved at www.clevelandplayhouse.com or via phone at the box office, 216-795-7000, extension 4.

Star Beacon Print Edition: 9/29/2006

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