Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

March 22, 2014

The Other Place

TheaterWorks, Hartford,CT
through April 19, 2014
by Jarice Hanson

Playwright Sharr White has constructed a poignant, wild roller coaster ride of emotion for the audience in "The Other Place." This totally engaging play is part mystery, part thriller, and an intimate portrait of mind, memory, and love. The script is beautifully written and sizzles thanks to director Rob Ruggiero and a production team that includes a magical set by Luke Hegel-Cantarella, John Lasiter’s lighting, and Fitz Patton’s original music and sound design.

The extraordinary actress who carries the show is Kate Levy, whose depth and command of the role is staggering. As Juliana Smithton, the research scientist whose life begins to shatter because of a devastating disease, Levy evokes empathy and compassion. Her work is artistic perfection. The story begins as her character pitches a new pharmaceutical to a gathering of doctors, but then her eye catches someone in the audience who provokes a series of mental connections that drive the story through a twisting, turning loop of related thoughts, memories, and pain.

Juliana becomes obsessed with her daughter’s disappearance and is haunted by past events, while the audience starts to question which memories are real. Her husband, Ian, played by R. Ward Duffy is an excellent counterpoint to Juliana’s emotional swings, and he becomes the character for whom we sympathize as the family’s story unravels. Amelia McClain (billed as “The Woman”) plays three roles – all to perfection, and Clark Scott Carmichael (“The Man”) establishes presence in a series of cleanly executed multiple roles.

So much happens in this well-crafted play that is disorienting, familiar, and devastating, that any description of plot would give it all away. In the hands of a lesser cast and crew, this play could become trite or maudlin, but Ruggiero’s cast and crew hit the nerves just right. "The Other Place," whose title is integral to the story, is theatre at its best, and TheaterWorks deserves kudos for delivering its audiences a powerful story, well-crafted, well-told, and unforgettable.