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My Place, Your Place, or “The Other Place?”

January 11th, 2013

“The Other Place,” Sharr White’s brainy drama that opened last night at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, begins before the house lights go dim with Laurie Metcalf sitting center stage. She is texting.

Like many of us caught in the fast paced world of technology and innovation, she is consumed by her device—oblivious to the audience filling the theater. Then something happens. Some kind of distraction washes over her. It’s a subtle change. A shift in her chair. An awkward glance… the beginning of what is about to unravel in the next 80 minutes.

As Juliana, a sarcastic neurologist who has developed and now hawks a fictional drug called Identymal, Metcalf whizzes through playwright Sharr White’s acerbic dialogue, slicing through the fourth wall like an esteemed surgeon.

Yet, once again, something is not quite right. Juliana is flushed, distracted. So begins the descent to the other place where Juliana must face the demons of her past and an uncertain future. Along for the ride is Daniel Stern as husband Ian and Zoe Perry and John Schiappa who portray a variety of characters.

Zoey Perry (l) and Laurie Metcalf (r) in "The Other Place." photo: Joan Marcus

White’s script fervently pulses through past and present as Juliana’s mind begins to unravel. The looming divorce, the cheating husband and the daughter who ran away all collide in a mosaic of scenes that can be as unsettling as riding along the open ocean in a raft.

Metcalf gives a Tony-worthy performance that ranges from utter clarity to uncontrolled chaos but it is director Joe Mantello who anchors the production, pulling together purposefully disparate pieces to create a framework from which she can play.

Perhaps most touching is a scene near the end of the play, where Metcalf and real-life daughter Perry converge in a battle of memory and survival as the two women find commonality over an order of Kung Pao chicken.

While it may be too intense for a second helping, “The Other Place” serves an evening a riveting live theater and one of the best dramatic performances the season.

“The Other Place”
Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 West 47th Street
Tickets $67 – $120
For more information visit

What the critics are saying:

 “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.” The New York Times

“This is Metcalf’s show and she is stunning. Holding the stage for the entire duration and then some, she runs the emotional gamut like a marathoner. From the peaks of Juliana’s medical research to the valleys of her harrowing mental condition, there are no false steps and each turn is as honest as it is grippingly intense.” NY 1

“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.” USA Today

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