This has been a great summer for me. I had a second son born to me, I got one spiritual fix from the play at Brucemore —a fix much like walking into a cathedral, a physically numinous experience— and now I am getting my second spiritual fix — this one less physical, more of a psychical numinosum.

Urban Theater Project of Iowa —of which I am a member — is mounting David Lindsay-Abaire’s Rabbit Hole. Yes, it is a movie. But before that it was a Pulitzer Prize winning stage play.

I actually suggested we do this play — for a couple of reasons — and I was really excited when the company members went for it. It is perhaps the best contemporary play I have read in years, in staging, plot, character and dialogue. And I desperately wanted to play Howie, the father.

I’ve always felt that people view me as a comedic actor, probably because that’s how I view myself. I love comedy and think I do comedy pretty well. But there are a handful of straight roles that I have always wanted: Horatio (for which I am too old), Richard III (which is a tough production to get mounted), and Tom Robinson from Mockingbird (which…well, I guess you can probably figure that problem out on your own).

I read a review of the play Rabbit Hole and within about five minutes had ordered the script. When I read it I knew that I had to play Howie. The problem: I’m not a leading man type of guy. Granted, Howie is not really a romantic lead, he is much more developed and rich than just that. But if I were to audition for this play, no one would take a second look at me for that role. It’s just how the industry is.

Howie is thinner, taller, handsomer, and well-dress…eder. I am none of those. Nor am I a financial advisor. In fact, when I talk with our family financial advisor I always come armed with my anxiety meds. It helps to keep the stress-induced rash at bay.

But he’s also funny, sensitive, caring, hopeful, and he forgets to feed the dog. Essentially, he’s me…if I turned out to be a thin, tall, handsome, well-dressed financial advisor.

That’s one of the reasons I love Urban Theater. We get to do the kinds of shows we want to do. And you know what, there are a lot of Howies out there that aren’t thin, tall or handsome. I’m a little tired of the chiseled chins and wry grins that we see in film.

The other reason I really wanted to do this show is rooted in my spiritual belief in theatre. Aristotle wrote of catharsis, which was the idea that if people go see tragedy, they live vicariously through the specific destruction of the play’s main character. This act releases the viewer of their stresses and fears, specifically in line with the character’s hamartia, their fatal flaw.

As I said earlier, Howie is much like me. He and his wife Becca lose their four year-old son in an auto accident, and it has done a number on their marriage. I think I would react much as Howie has. He is particularly close to me.

My wife has gone on record saying that she will simply not be able to watch this show. She is so scared of this show that she won’t run lines with me, which is a first. I get it. I understand where she is coming from on this one. And I totally respect her position.

But for me, acting in this show is like washing in the Ganges. It is a spiritual restorative. I am living the sadder alternate life in the show, much like the universal rabbit holes discussed in the play. This play life is the sadder life of loss, so my real life can break free of that disastrous possibility.

It’s getting me cleaner with each rehearsal. I can’t wait for people to see it.