Review: THE OTHER PLACE at Dobama

Scrit and performances make THE OTHER PLACE a must see at Dobama

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Nathan Motta, the Artistic Director of Dobama says of the play which is now on that theatre's stage, "THE OTHER PLACE took a long way to arrive on the Dobama stage. I first read this script way back in 2010 and was immediately taken with its unique structure, suspenseful narrative and complex characters."

The Dobama's leadership team wanted to produce the script, but before they could get licensing rights, an Off-Broadway production starring Laurie Metcalf was announced. Nope, the CLE theatre couldn't do it.

When the Big Apple show closed, they thought, "This is our chance."

Again, they were thwarted. The production was transferred to Broadway. It went on to garner a Tony nomination for Metcalf and major kudos from the critics.

The Broadway show finally closed.

Now, was the chance for Cleveland's off-Broadway theatre, to get the rights. Right? Wrong! The play was being produced regionally, but for a variety of reasons Dobama wasn't able to program it.

In Spring of 2019 the local theatre announced it was going to close its season with THE OTHER PLACE. Hurrah! Finally, it would be seen in 440/216. Guess what? "Casting was finalized, a creative team was finalized, marketing begun, and production designs were well underway when the world shut down due to the COVID pandemic."

No go, again!

Flash forward to March 11, 2023...the curtain finally came up on Lee Road in Cleveland Heights.

Was it worth the wait! Yes, oh yes!

What's it about? "THE OTHER PLACE begins with the feeling of a suspense-filled thriller and evolves into a character drama that is surprising, thought-provoking, and moving." It's a script full of "twists and turns."

More specifically, "The play centers around Juliana Smithton - a successful neurologist whose life seems to be coming unhinged. Her husband has filed for divorce, her daughter has eloped with a much older man 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."

And, so dear readers, that's about all I can tell you about the plot as the theatre management sent this notice to the sage local reviewers: "We ask that in your reviews you do not describe vital plot points as this play is in large part a mystery with various reveals. Thank you."

I can state that I agree the New York and west coast reviewers who called the play, "mesmerizing," "compelling," "puzzle-like intriguing," and "spectacular."

It's not only the script that deserves hurrahs, but it is the wise direction by Nathan Motta and the emotion shattering performance by Tracee Patterson, who proves once again why she is considered to be one of the best actors on local stages.

Patterson's scarily intense performance as Juliana, grabs the audience in her first speech and carries them through a series of captivating experiences which leaves not only the performer, but the viewer emotionally exhausted. It, like the role of Martha in WHO'S AFRAID OF Virginia Woolf and Blanche in STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE requires a superb actress to make the person real and the performance emotion-shattering. Patterson has all the acting chops to pull it off! She is standing "O" worthy!

Doug Sutherland also commands as Ian, Juliana's husband. Welcome, to the Cleveland area, newbie. We look forward to seeing this talented performer in many upcoming local productions.

Mary Werntz and Prophet Seay are excellent in a variety of roles.

Jill Davis's scenic design, Jeremy Paul's projections and Angie Hayes's sound designs, all aid in making this a well-conceived production.

Capsule judgment: If you are a comedy and/or a musical theater junky who is reluctant to see a "serious" play, make an exception and get thee to Dobama to experience an important and well-written script, experience a well-conceived production, with an award-winning performance. THIS IS AN ABSOLUTELY MUST-SEE PRODUCTION!

For tickets to THE OTHER PLACE, which runs through April 2, 2023, call 216.932.3396 or go to

Next up at Dobama: WHAT WE LOOK LIKE (April 21-May 14). The story of the Hodges...a black family that has recently moved to a suburban white neighborhood. When the youngest is asked to draw a family picture at school, he creates an imaginary white family!


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Roy Berko, a life-long Clevelander, holds degrees, through the doctorate from Kent State, University of Michigan and The Pennsylvania State University. Roy was an actor for many years, appearing in mo... (read more about this author)


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