Review Roundup: THE OTHER PLACE Opens on Broadway - All the Reviews!
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.
Erik Haagensen, Backstage: Once again guided faultlessly by director Joe Mantello, the production has been expertly expanded to fill the larger space without sacrificing intimacy or nuance. Laurie Metcalf returns to offer her galvanizing portrayal of Dr. Juliana Smithton, a dementia specialist suddenly faced with the condition herself, and Metcalf's shattering work has only gotten richer. Bold, unflinching, and ingeniously constructed, this is a show not to be missed.
Scott Brown, Vulture: Metcalf supplies the gravitation that holds it all together, even as her immense centrifugal energy is, simultaneously, working to fling it all apart. Her physical and spiritual transformation over the course of this brief, intense story is total. I greatly enjoyed The Other Place in its original Off Broadway incarnation, but I wondered if Joe Mantello's exquisite, bounded-in-a-nutshell production would scale up to Broadway. It does, I'm thrilled to report, and a great deal of the credit is due Metcalf herself, who's found several clever ways-near-subliminal physicalization, megaphonic emotional projection-to turn a delicate chamber performance into a great ringing cry from the darkness, suitable for an amphitheater.
Robert Kahn, NBC New York: Metcalf's Juliana is two different women: the first, a businesslike medical researcher-turned-pharmaceutical rep; the second, a disintegrating mother distancing herself from reality. Juliana's fear about her health manifests as anger and sarcasm, and is particularly potent in scenes like one where she bites the head off her doctor for not allowing her to smoke in her office ... which is inside a hospital. Anyone can get sick, but is it the truly brilliant people who have the most trouble when control over their bodies is wrenched away? Metcalf makes us feel her fear.
Jeremy Gerard, Bloomberg: Laurie Metcalf's performance as Juliana in "The Other Place" has both sharpened and deepened since Sharr White's drama ran off-Broadway nearly two years ago. Given a second outing, now on Broadway under the wing of the Manhattan Theatre Club, the one-act drama still packs a formidable punch...but "The Other Place" has lost some power in the interregnum. The most easily identified reason is a significant casting change: Where Dennis Boutsikaris was sharp, even severe as Ian, Daniel Stern is warm-and-fuzzier, less of a foil to Juliana...Like "The Great God Pan" earlier this season, "The Other Place" is yet another ambitious play that's maddeningly unfinished.
Joe Dziemianowicz, Daily News: The supporting cast is topnotch, including Daniel Stern as Juliana's beleaguered husband, Zoe Perry (Metcalf's real-life daughter), who plays a doctor and a bitter divorcee, and John Schiappa in a couple small roles. But it's really all about Juliana, a brittle individual who seems even tougher than she did during the first run. She's now caustic enough to come with a warning label. It's not a fluke, considering that Ian says to his wife: "You know, what surprises me almost more than anything else is how cruel this thing has made you." It's a harsh reality. And played by Metcalf, it hurts so good.
Elisabeth Vincentelli, NY Post: The play is less riveting than it is reasonably engaging. It's not entirely new, either, having premiered downtown two years ago. As for the "thriller" tag, let's just say the decorous Manhattan Theatre Club is behind this Broadway transfer, so don't expect fisticuffs.
Linda Winer, Newsday: Metcalf's Juliana begins tough and funny, oozing a sexuality that cannot be separated from her braininess. Against startling changes of sound and light designs, her body -- including those no-longer-confident legs -- shape-shifts as she is pummeled by delusions and a genuine life-altering trauma. Operating within a honeycomb of overlapping wooden frames, Metcalf transforms from moment to moment and back again, from sublime competence to a helplessness that is hard to watch. But dare you to take your eyes off her.
Robert Feldberg, Bergen Record: The play succeeds best as a showcase for Metcalf's acting skill. Perry, who also has a third role as a kind of interloper in the story, provides strong support. Stern, though, gives a lightweight effort as Juliana's put-upon husband.
Michael Musto, Village Voice: The Other Place might lack poetry--or Wit--but its emotional moments are potent. And Metcalf? Unforgettable. She even holds focus for the half hour before the play starts, sitting onstage in a chair, fiddling with a device, and trying to make sense of things. I could definitely do without this gimmick in general, but 30 minutes more of Metcalf is always a good thing.
Thom Geier, Entertainment Weekly: ulianna is a perfect fit for Laurie Metcalf, a Steppenwolf Theatre veteran best known for her Emmy-winning work on Roseanne. Still lithe in a slim black skirt and jacket with a black and white top (the costumes are by David Zinn), Metcalf radiates a brusque intelligence and mordant wit with occasional flashes of raw and childlike vulnerability. Hers is a mesmerizing performance