Art imitating life

May­fair nat­ive Rachel Holt said she based her one-act, one-wo­man show on real life ex­per­i­ences of deal­ing with loved ones who have struggled with drug ad­dic­tion. 

Twice as nice: Rachel Holt is the writer and star of Sur­render, which is part of this year’s Fringe Fest­iv­al.

Nicole struggles with heroin ad­dic­tion. So does the not-so-fic­tion­al char­ac­ter’s fam­ily, said North­east Philly nat­ive Rachel Holt, the writer and star of Sur­render.

“The play fol­lows Nicole’s jour­ney to­ward re­cov­ery,” Holt said in an Aug. 29 phone in­ter­view. The 45-minute play fo­cuses on what her fam­ily is feel­ing, the act­ress said.

Holt por­trays five char­ac­ters in the play.

“It’s about how Nicole’s fam­ily is con­stantly try­ing to help her,” she said, “and fi­nally learns her ad­dic­tion is a dis­ease.”

Holt said she based the one-act, one-wo­man show on in­ter­views with a real Nicole, who like the writer, grew up in May­fair. The play shows Nicole is in love with what is des­troy­ing her and it shows how she and her fam­ily cope with that deadly ro­mance as she moves to­ward re­cov­ery.

“People see an ad­dict and don’t real­ize she is some­body with a fam­ily,” Holt said. “And they don’t real­ize her ad­dic­tion is a sick­ness that reaches deep in­to her soul.”

“The dis­ease of ad­dic­tion is an equal-op­por­tun­ity des­troy­er,” said pro­du­cer Dav­id Mc­Don­ald. “Rachel not only cap­tures the struggle of the ad­dict, but also the heart­break­ing im­pact on the fam­ily. There’s a mes­sage in Sur­render that needs to be heard: There is hope.”

The real Nicole, now 33, is in re­cov­ery, Holt said, and she doesn’t even re­cog­nize the girl who was the ad­dict.

The real Rachel Holt at­ten­ded St. Timothy’s grade school, gradu­ated from St. Hubert’s in 1996 and got in­to act­ing in Phil­adelphia. She has been act­ing pro­fes­sion­ally for more than a dec­ade. She spent the last six years in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. She re­cently re­turned to Phil­adelphia and is liv­ing with her par­ents in Hunt­ing­don Val­ley while she and her fam­ily are house hunt­ing.

Sur­render is the first play Holt has writ­ten and the first she has pro­duced. 

She was last on the stage at the Wal­nut Street Theatre early this year, por­tray­ing the char­ac­ter of Lady Chil­tern for the last three per­form­ances of Oscar Wilde’s “An Ideal Hus­band.”

Part of this year’s Fringe Fest­iv­al (Sept. 5-22), Sur­render will run at the The Swing on the second floor of the Ad­rienne Theat­er, 2030 Sansom St., at 7 p.m. on Sept. 4, 6, 12 and 13, and at 6 p.m. on Sept. 7 and 15. The one-act play runs for about 45 minutes. Tick­ets are $18 and avail­able at the door or through the FringeArts box of­fice, 215-413-1318 or

Every Septem­ber, the Fringe Fest­iv­al fea­tures bound­ary-break­ing work cre­ated by artists from the Phil­adelphia area and around the world. ••

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