Photo by Don Kellogg

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Other Place

Laurie Metcalf has some experience playing a bitch and she continues to execute this persona quite well as Juliana in Sharr White's new work entitled The Other Place.  The work is intended to be presented in a rapid fire, intentionally disjointed pastiche of monologue and dialogue  - revealing a story of mental capacity juxtaposed with mental disease.  Juliana jumps from fluidly explaining the immediate hours and activities before her incident to sometimes confused and blurred dialogue and background scenes with her husband, daughter, and doctor - all of which lead to an ending you would never suspect when the lights first go down.  Sharr's work is compelling, purposeful and extremely clever.

In a psychological thriller of a play such as this, the impact is mainly felt through the rapid fire changes, the lighting, and sound, as well as the abilities of the actors to decisively jump between the various vignettes.   The Lortel Theatre is notoriously a dump of a theatre and I found myself wondering how it might come off in a more well equipped theatre.  The play is ostensibly Ms. Metcalf's to sell and while she does an admirable job, the supporting cast left me wanting more.  Most notably, her doctor (Aya Cash) is played by the same actor as her daughter (and also the resident of her prior home of Cape Cod).  I'm not exactly clear why someone would think an accomplished neurologist would be so young.  Her husband, Ian (Dennis Boustikaris) aptly covers the required ground, but the role, while at times emotional, lacks clear definition.

A compelling story, a fine acting job by Ms. Metcalf worth plenty more than the price of an off-Broadway ticket, nonetheless, The Other Place, left me wondering how much better it could be - and in another place.  Should there be chatter of a Broadway run next fall or spring, once again under Joe Mantello's direction, I'd be calling in my ticket order today.