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BWW Review: Rep Stage Presents THE OTHER PLACE - A Play to Remember

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I have one major complaint about Rep Stage production of THE OTHER PLACE by Sharr White. Why is it running such a short time?

This is an astonishing piece of work which every lover of theater should not miss. It combines an ironic tale of a successful neurologist woman who believes she has discovered a drug to slow the process of dementia and then must deal with the fact that she may have to deal with this heart-wrenching disease.

Kudos to Rep Stage for once again bringing such a fascinating and award-winning drama (and regional premiere) to local audiences and to Director and Co-Artistic Rep Stage Director) Joseph W. Ritsch for brilliantly dealing with a complex work featuring a superb cast of actos and a talented cadre of stage designers.

The brilliant Julie-Ann Elliott plays the leading role of Juliana who pays a very successful durg company representative who is pitching a new drug at a convention in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands (not a bad place to be). Sound Designer William K. D'Eugenio cleverly gives Juliana an amplified voice whenever she is giving her presentation of the new drug. She also constantly addresses the audience whether referring to her troubled marriage to oncologist husband Ian (the terrific and incredibly sympathetic Nigel Reed) or reestablishing contact with her 25- year-old daughter Laurel (Maggie Robertson who masters two other roles) who ran away from home at the age of 15 to be with a man much older (Scott Ward Abernathy who also plays multiple roles as "The Man"). To complicate matters, Juliana has never seen her grandchildren.

Julia is incredibly professional and successful and she looks it wearing a lovely conservative outfit with small stylish heels (Costume Design by Eric Abele). Her manner and demeanor exude confidence and success in her professional life while dealing with obvious major problems in her domestic life.

She recognizes she may have a problem after she encounters what is called an "episode" while addressing the convention. Due to her family history, she mentions in an aside, it must be brain cancer. She consults a doctor who specializes in cognitive disorders (also played by Robertson) who she believes is having an affair with her husband. Yes, it's complicated. Later she says "If I had dementia, don't you think I'd know it?"

The family lives in Boston and has a lovely summer home a short drive away in Cape Cod which Juliana labels "the other place" (hence the title of the play) where the family shared great memories. The set (Scenic Design by Nate Sinnott) is a weather Cape Cod cottage with four wicker chairs, three windows and wooden planks for the floor. In the rear are draperies which also serve as a screen for video projections (which Rep Stage has used very successfully in other productions) demonstrating life in the past on the Cape (Projection Design by Sarah Tundermann). If you stay for the credits after a movie, stay for the video after the play ends. Andrea "Dre" Moore is the Properties Designer and Conor Mulligan did the clever lighting.

At the end of the play, Juliana returns to the cottage and it is a heart-wrenching scene that playwright White must have thoroughly enjoyed writing.

The role of Juliana is an actor's dream. She never leaves the stage during the 80 minute play without an intermission. At the beginning of the play Juliana is a confident professional until the pain intensifies at the end. Elliott is just plain brilliant in this complex role.

It was clear from the audience that they were totally involved with the dilemma facing only Juliana but her entire family. You could hear a pin drop.

Do not miss this incredible production.

THE OTHER PLACE continues only to September 25. For tickets, call 443-518-1000. Rep Stage is located at the Studio Theatre of the Horowitz Visual and Performance Arts Center at Howard Community College, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, MD.

There will be a free pre-show lecture on Saturday, Sept. 24a t 12:30 p.m. in the Monteabaro Recital Hall titled "The Persistence of Memory: Its Biology and Psychology" moderated by Rep Stage Dramaturg Lisa A. Wilde.

Next up at Rep Stage is AMERICAN HERO by Bess Wohl directed by Suzanne Beal running November 2 to November 20, 2016.

cgshubow@broadwayworld.com


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