LA Theatre Works hosts the best productions I’ve ever had the privilege of attending. In this case, I was lucky enough to be offered tickets from LA Theatre Works to see this month’s production, which is a play by Sharr White called The Other Place. It’s very hard to find words to describe the show without sharing the whole storyline, and I refuse to ruin the story like that. It is must see theater at its very best, and The Other Place is a show that gripped my heartstrings and didn’t let go. I found myself following the story enthusiastically, and trying to discern its twists and turns until the conclusion, which is heart wrenchingly real and made me realize that there are some things I am very scared of and never want to see happen to me or any of my loved ones.
Since I want to share about the play, but I’m afraid of giving away the plot, I’m sharing the synopsis of the play that LA Theatre Works provided:
In this gripping psychological thriller, Golden Globe winner Calista Flockhart (Ally McBeal, Brothers & Sisters) plays a brilliant researcher who fears she is losing her mind – and her husband, Gregory Harrison (One Tree Hill, Ringer). Is it the onset of an undetected illness? Or have her years of guilt over her runaway daughter begun to take their toll? Playwright Sharr White creates a ride through the twists and turns of one woman’s battle to hold on to reality – and her own sanity.
The cast of The Other Place was the best and strongest I’ve seen thus far at LA Theatre Works. Calista Flockhart plays the lead character, Juliana Smithton, and carries the entire show. She was phenomenal! Her performance is the platform of the show, and it is the launchpad for all the actors to work from. As such, Calista’s performance was incredible and made the entire show work. Her dedication to Juliana was incredible as the audience watched a woman slowly explain the story of what she thinks is going on and what’s wrong with her.
Gregory Harrison was also fantastic as the husband, Ian Smithton. He did a fantastic job as a supportive spouse to Juliana, and when he was emotional because of what was going on in the show, the audience was there with him. Gregory’s performance is nearly as heart-wrenching as Calista’s, as we learn a lot about the truth of the situation from him and his character. He was so in tune with Ian that when he cried, the audience cried with him.
Kalen Harriman tackled a few roles that also helped flesh out what the lead was experiencing, and she made each character nuanced so that they were easy to tell apart. She played a therapist as well as the lead character’s daughter, and another character at the end of the show. As a therapist, Kalen’s performance was precise. She was slightly cool to Calista’s character and the sessions the two had felt like real therapy appointments. When she played the daughter, the audience could feel the distance between her and her mother. At the end, Kalen played a character that brought the whole piece together. I won’t say any more about that character, as it would spoil the play. However, I must acknowledge that this is Kalen’s debut performance with LA Theatre Works, and it’s a fantastic one. I look forward to seeing her in more shows in the future.
Finally, Hugo Armstrong was also fantastic in the show. His character was merely called The Man, but his role was vital to the show. There isn’t much I can say about his role in the show, as it would spoil a lot of what happens. However, he brought a lot to The Other Place, and the show wouldn’t have been nearly as good as it was without him in the cast. I wish I could share more about Hugo’s performance in the show, but since I can’t without spoiling the plot, I’ll just share that he has appeared on Sarah Michelle Gellar’s current tv show The Crazy Ones, and he’s someone to watch for when you’re watching tv.
Over all, The Other Place is a show that has cemented itself in my heart because of both the characters and the story. It’s truly terrifying to contemplate the point of the show, as it leaves you questioning if the experiences Juliana goes through are similar to what really happens when one is afflicted the way Juliana is.
It will be a little while before everyone will be able to experience The Other Place, but in the mean time, check out the shows that LA Theatre Works has on their Soundcloud page. Every Thursday, a new show replaces the previous one to listen to, and later this year, several shows featuring Whedonites will be available to listen to and enjoy.