Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sorting Things Out in 'The Other Place'

Aya Cash as a stranger and Laurie Metcalf as Juliana, a scientist, in "The Other Place. Photos by Joan Marcus


JULIANA (Laurie Metcalf)
is a research scientist promoting a new drug she has developed when she suffers “a thingy.” She attributes her medical incident to brain cancer, which she claims, runs in her family.

LM is seated, holding centerstage, long before the lights dim. For the next 80 minutes in “The Other Place,” she continues to dominate in monologues lobbed directly across the fourth wall, as well as in fiery encounters with both her husband, Ian (Dennis Boutsikaris), an oncologist, and her doctor, Cindy Keller (Aya Cash, billed as The Woman and playing several parts).

As Juliana falls apart, LM remains marvelously in control of the energy of “The Other Place,” in an MCC Theater production at the Lucille Lortel Theatre until 1 May

LM is a powerful dramatic actress who makes good use of her comic timing. Here, she displays perfect pitch in portraying Juliana’s brusqueness to be the rudeness of a sad and delicate illness. (See videos at

Dennis Boutsikaris as a man who doubts, but supports his wife (Laurie Metcalf) in "The Other Place."

Ian is skeptical of the self-diagnosis, and his colleague, Dr. Keller, diagnosis dementia. Adding to the trauma of her condition, Juliana is reliving the disappearance of her daughter, Lauren, 10 years ago.

The minor irony that the drug Juliana developed will be used to help restore her memories is a little pat, and “The Other Place” unfolds a little disconnectedly, like synapses misfiring. Further, Juliana’s interactions with Richard (John Schiappa – The Man in the credits and also playing more than one part) are awkward and full of “the regrets” she says she often experiences.

Aya Cash as Dr. Cindy Keller and Laurie Metcalf as her patient, Juliana, in "The Other Place."

Yet, none of this diminishes the power of Sharr White’s tale. The awkwardness of the play’s timelines and jumbled settings underlines the excellent storytelling and strong performances.

In all her characters, AC is adroit; she is especially charming as an unnerved, but kind stranger Juliana encounters. DB is excellent, revealing Ian as weary, faithful and stoical despite the wild accusations Juliana makes against him.

Dennis Boutsikaris, Laurie Metcalf and Aya Cash in "The Other Place."

Since “The Other Place” is not linear, moving back and forth like a reluctant witness to Juliana’s disintegration, it maintains a tension and mystery from beginning to end. But it also requires a steady hand to guide it. Joe Mantello directs with a clarity and wit, getting the most from his cast.

Visit to learn more about “The Other Place.”

No comments :

Post a Comment

Creative Commons License
VEVLYN'S PEN: The Wright take on life by Vevlyn Wright is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License .
Based on a work at .
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at .