Theatre Review by Gail M. Burns and Larry Murray
Gail M. Burns: The Other Place is a riveting 90 minutes of suspenseful theatre, a challenging mystery play in which we try to piece together just what is happening to eminent scientist Juliana Smithton (Marg Helgenberger), and why.
Larry Murray: As we watch the play unfold, our minds race to comprehend what’s gong on. Not until the final monologue do we really come to grips with that, and the last 10 minutes were so forceful that our expectations completely shift. When I left the theater, I felt like the world had changed.
Gail: Like a treasure map, in the program for The Other Place – which opens the 20th Season of Barrington Stage – director Christopher Innvar provides the key to open this puzzle box when he quotes the playwright, Sharr White:
“A particular feature of the very smart people in my life is that they think their sheer intelligence can keep them from all manner of harm. It’s a beautiful, yet very vulnerable form of arrogance…[Juliana] is by any measure one of the smartest people on earth: witty, sharp, sexy, aggressive and self-assured. And yet because so much of herself hinges on her estimation of her great mind, she also exists in a terrible state of vulnerability. Take her mind away – even a little bit of it – and what does she have left?”
This is also a play about loss and how we cope with it. Innvar states in his Director’s Note that he perceives this an ensemble piece about family: “What happens when one member is set adrift, lost at sea? Only by admitting that we are lost can we be found, and with luck, discover the pieces of ourselves that we thought were lost forever, and arrive safely home.”