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Art imitating life

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.

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“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 fringearts.com

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

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