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Manhattan Theatre Club Presents "The Other Place" at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
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Manhattan Theatre Club Presents "The Other Place" at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre

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Manhattan Theatre Club
The Other Place
(The Other Place Website)

By Sharr White

Lynn Meadow, Artistic Director
Barry Grove, Exec. Producer

Directed by Joe Mantello

At the
Samuel J. Friedman Theatre
261 West 47th Street

Laurie Metcalf, Bill Pullman
Zoe Perry, John Schiappa

Scenic Design: Eugene Lee & Edward Pierce
Costume Design: David Zinn
Lighting Design: Justin Townsend
Original Music & Sound Design: Fitz Patton
Video & Projection Design: William Cusick
Casting: Caparelliotis Casting
& Telsey + Company
Production Stage Manager: Barclay Stiff
General Manager: Florie Seery
Press: Boneau/Bryan-Brown
Artistic Producer: Mandy Greenfield
Director of Artistic Development: Jerry Patch
Director of Marketing: Debra Waxman-Pilla
Director of Development: Lynne Randall
Production Manager: Joshua Helman
Artistic Line Producer: Lisa McNulty
Director of Casting: Nancy Piccione

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
February 13, 2013

To see truly great acting, one must attend a performance, before it closes, of Sharr White’s one-act play, The Other Place, now at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, presented by Manhattan Theatre Club. To absorb this complex and haunting play, one must attend a second performance, if possible, because the audience has so much to think about in this fast-paced 80-minute masterpiece. Laurie Metcalf, who grips our attention each and every one of those 80 minutes, is even onstage, as the theatre fills with viewers. Eugene Lee and Edward Pierce’s steel-cage-like set, with pipes shaping empty squares, evokes the sensation that the characters live in a prison; soon, we realize that prison is Juliana’s (Ms. Metcalf’s) mind. Juliana has ghost-like memories that reside rent-free in her head, forcing themselves to penetrate her thinking process, as she lectures a medical conference in St. Thomas. Juliana, who researched neuroscience for years, is now a rep for a pharmaceutical company that sells a new drug that reduces the damage of dementia. Outside the cage-like set are projections, one of the few “other places” in the drama. These are colorful slides and videos that educate her crowd.

During her forcefully delivered, high tech lecture, Juliana has an “episode”, induced either by environment (jealousy of a younger attractive woman in a yellow bikini) or by genetics (induced by a medical condition), and Juliana quickly implodes into a furious, tormenting rant against a real or imaginary offstage character. Juliana races home to Boston for what she imagines will be brain tumor surgery. The results are not what she expects, and the remaining hour or so of this play are not what the audience expects, either. There is one younger woman in the cast, Ms. Metcalf’s real-life daughter, Zoe Perry, who personifies Juliana’s doctor, Juliana’s daughter, and a stranger. The audience is left to ponder the roots of Juliana’s “episode”, as it learns more of Juliana’s past, through overlapping flashbacks. Guilt, remorse, terror, exhaustion, obsession, rejection, and especially loss, compel Juliana to re-play trauma, over and over in her free-rent memories, until she becomes an emotional cripple, frozen in brain-fatigue. She makes one last valiant attempt to fix the past and banish the trauma, and, in that scene, the audience witnesses Ms. Metcalf in her “other place”, where she mentally travels in time to a sense of safety and serenity.

Bill Pullman plays Juliana’s oncologist husband, Ian, with essential nurturing and patience. His role is secondary to Ms. Metcalf’s dual stage personas, but it’s also intertwined in every scene. This is a husband, who always comes to the rescue, Juliana’s savior. John Schiappa plays Richard, Juliana’s son-in-law, and he also evokes another character here or there, but his stage presence is fleeting. He, too, however, is essential to the unfolding scenario. Ms. Perry, as Juliana’s doctor, is composed, skillful, and compassionate. As Juliana’s daughter, she’s tempestuous and torn, and, as the stranger, she accommodates to the unexpected. But, again, it’s Ms. Metcalf that grips and transports the audience to her “other place”. Joe Mantello has directed for dramatic shifts in character with natural, nuanced interpretation. The audience is magnetized to this stage. The Lee and Pierce set design perfectly symbolizes the psychic and emotional cage that envelops Juliana, her husband, and daughter. It also evokes the slides of the neurons, thanks to William Cusick’s projections. Justin Townsend’s lighting ranges from cool to fiery flashes, shocking the viewer’s thought, while Fitz Patton’s sound and original music provide thunder claps of stress that seamlessly tie the narrative. Kudos to Laurie Metcalf, and kudos to all.

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at