The Other Place opens tonight, January 10, 2013, at Manhattan Theatre Club's Samuel J. Friedman Theatre (261 West 47th Street). The Other Place stars Laurie Metcalf ("Roseanne," November), Daniel Stern ("The Wonder Years," Diner), Zoe Perry (Broadway debut), and John Schiappa (Assassins, Take Me Out). The new thriller by playwright Sharr White is directed by two-time Tony Award winner Joe Mantello (Other Desert Cities, Wicked, Love! Valour! Compassion!).
Metcalf plays Juliana Smithton, a successful neurologist whose life seems to be coming unhinged. Her husband (Daniel Stern) has filed for divorce, her daughter (Zoe Perry) has eloped with a much older man (John Schiappa), and her own health is in jeopardy. But in this brilliantly crafted work, nothing is as it seems. Piece by piece, a mystery unfolds as fact blurs with fiction, past collides with present and the elusive truth about Juliana boils to the surface.
The creative team for the production includes Eugene Lee & Edward Pierce (scenic design), David Zinn (costume design), Justin Townsend (lighting design), Fitz Patton (original music, sound design), William Cusick (projection design), and David Caparelliotis (casting).
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Charles Isherwood, The New York Times: ...thanks to the superb performance of Laurie Metcalf as Juliana, the less we are sure of, the more we are engaged. Our perceptions of Juliana's journey through a life upended by trauma may continually shift, but one thing remains fixed: the intense, complicated humanity of Ms. Metcalf's performance...."The Other Place" is a cunningly constructed entertainment that discloses its nifty twists at intervals that keep us intrigued. In what is shaping up to be a lousy season for new plays on Broadway, perhaps this alone is worth a cheer or two.
Mark Kennedy, Associated Press: The play - so buffed and polished it now seems to squeak - is matched by a searing, brilliant performance by Laurie Metcalf, who is simply astonishing as she goes from snippy, bossy scientist to a broken, confused intruder wolfing down Chinese food on the floor. Director Joe Mantello keeps up a blistering pace - snippets of scenes dissolve into another, past and present collide. Speed is important to keep the audience guessing, but it leaves no room for a moment's error. Mantello proves as sharp as the narrator is unreliable.
Matt Windman, AM New York: "The Other Place" is essentially a stream of consciousness monologue padded with a few scenes and flashbacks to add a bit of substance and suspense. It feels derived from previous plays about smart women confronting illness, such as "Proof" and "Wit." With all due respect to Metcalf, who never leaves the stage and gives a brave and raw performance, "The Other Place" leaves much to be desired. 2 stars.
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: In the role of a brittle biophysicist, terrified, angered and ultimately humbled by her own illness, Metcalf has found a vehicle that allows her tremendous gifts to blaze fiercely...Joe Mantello's super-sleek production perfectly mirrors the complexities of Juliana's psychological state. The set, by Eugene Lee and Edward Pierce, is a stark tangle of what could be picture frames or windows. At times illuminated in patches, at others bathed in a soft glow or deep shadow, the enclosure provides a fractured view of everything and nothing. The central character's volatile moods are echoed in the meticulous shifts of Justin Townsend's lighting and Fitz Patton's music and sound. There's a precision to the staging that enhances the puzzle-like intrigue of White's play and safeguards it from slipping into the disease-of-the-week telefilm territory it could easily inhabit.
Elysa Gardner, USA Today: Juliana's seeming deterioration and her struggle to come to terms with it raise intriguing questions about our emotional and intellectual autonomy; and director Joe Mantello, who initially helmed the play off-Broadway last year, guides his fine cast with sensitivity and wit. Metcalf, who earned an Obie Award in that earlier production, gives a performance as impressive for its elegance as it is for its fearlessness. Even in Juliana's most lost, desperate moments, we're aware of her native mental agility and her fierce pride, which make her painful journey all the more poignant.