Joseph W. Ritsch, Director of Rep Stage’s fearless production of “The Other Place” by Sharr White says that “What you witness may not be as it seems. Characters may lie to you. Images may be merely mirages. The past will collide with the present. But hope will tirelessly fight to shine through, and in the end we will come out on the other side together. And your journey is the precious and personal gift that only the theatre can give.”
…shocking moments of self-discovery are revealed in this fearless production directed by Rep Stage’s very talented Joseph W. Ritsch.
The play centers around Juliana (Julie-Ann Elliott), a drug-company scientist in her early fifties who is going through a divorce with her husband Ian (Nigel Reed), an oncologist. Answers aren’t given as to why the divorce is in the offing, but Juliana does say that “he’s a better doctor than a husband.”
You would think that a woman as smart as she is wouldn’t be a smoker, but her addiction to nicotine turns out to be the least of her problems. She visits a colleague of Ian’s named Dr. Cindy Teller (Maggie Robertson), a neurobiologist to try and identify the issue, but for now, it all seems a mystery.
Add to that what seems to be a rocky relationship with Juliana and Ian’s daughter, Laurel (also played by Maggie Robertson) and her husband Richard (Scott Ward Abernethy), and you have a play that will keep your head spinning.
Actress Julie-Ann Elliot gives an exemplary performance as Juliana. Serving as the play’s narrator of sorts, there is hardly a moment when she is not on stage during the shows 90 minutes. During that time she takes the audience on a journey to a pharmaceutical conference in the Virgin Islands where she is speaking before a group of medical professionals promoting a new drug she discovered for the treatment of dementia. We also visit her home in Boston and the family beach house on Cape Cod, known as “the other place.”
Even though Juliana is going through a divorce with Ian, they still live with and care about each other. Actor Nigel Reed as Ian does a fine job of humanizing the difficult situations that occur. I won’t give away any of the surprises but will say there is a touching moment involving a wedding ring.
The technical elements of the play really enrich the experience. The minimalist set design by Nathaniel Sinnott features a unit set that serves as the homes, doctors office, and conference room. The sound design by William D’Eugenio, features sounds of the ocean, toddlers, thunderstorms, as well as the body microphone when Juliana is the speaker at the conference. The projections designed by Sarah Tundermann, include a sunny beach to graphics like molecules and chromosomes for Juliana’s conference presentation.
Playwright Sharr White purposefully confuses the audience with his things aren’t always as they seem format, perhaps to give us a glimpse and perspective of how it might feel to be in Juliana’s world. Juliana is on a quest for clarity, but the more she searches the more it seems as though life is just one big blur. In the end, shocking moments of self-discovery are revealed in this fearless production directed by Rep Stage’s very talented Joseph W. Ritsch.
Running Time: 90 minutes, with no intermission.
Advisory: Adult language and themes.
“The Other Place” by Rep Stage plays through September 25, 2016 in the Studio Theatre of the Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center at Howard Community College in Columbia, MD. For more information visit online.