THE OTHER PLACE Review

Links to all reviews can be found using the REVIEWS link at the top of the page. Blog postings, links and more are available on my Facebook fan page. You can also receive updates on Twitter from @BTCincyRob.

Regina Pugh as Juliana Smithton. Photo by Ryan Kurtz.

Regina Pugh as Juliana Smithton. Photo by Ryan Kurtz.

THE OTHER PLACE presented by the Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati through Feb. 15. Click here for more information on the production. I attended the opening night performance.

Pardon my french, but Juliana Smithton is a bitch. Considering how she treats the people in her life, its no wonder that her husband is divorcing her and her estranged daughter dreads the thought of a simple phone conversation. But there is more to Juliana’s story than meets the eye.

Michael G. Bath as Ian Smithton & Regina Pugh as Juliana Smithton. Photo by Ryan Kurtz.

Michael G. Bath as Ian Smithton & Regina Pugh as Juliana Smithton. Photo by Ryan Kurtz.

Lead Regina Pugh does excellent work in the demanding role of Juliana. The gamut of emotions and the personal motivations of her behavior all make sense, even when that understanding only becomes apparent to the audience later in the script. Also solid is Michael G. Bath as Juliana’s husband Ian. Until the audience is privy to what is really happening, Ian’s responses to Juliana’s behavior comes off a bit psychotic. The complex truth of his struggle to be strong and supportive for his wife, while dealing with this upheaval of their lives together is very well-acted.

Regina Pugh as Juliana Smithton & Kelly Mengelkoch as The Woman. Photo by Ryan Kurtz.

Regina Pugh as Juliana Smithton & Kelly Mengelkoch as The Woman. Photo by Ryan Kurtz.

Kelly Mengelkoch, as The Woman, shows off her versatility in several different characters, As The Man, Billy Chace provides believable characters in his ETC debut. I just wish the script had given him a bit more to do. Late in the show, the emotional payoff plays out at “the other place.” This superbly acted scene, between Pugh and Mengelkoch, is remarkable. Somehow both heart-breaking and strangely heart-warming, the actresses are simply brilliant.

Regina Pugh as Juliana Smithton. Photo by Ryan Kurtz.

Regina Pugh as Juliana Smithton. Photo by Ryan Kurtz.

The over-used (just an observation, not a complaint) contemporary theatrical conceit of time-hopping is handled well by director D. Lynn Meyers and performers. Brian c. Mehring’s lighting design smartly provides the audience with visual clues to help determine “when” we are. I also enjoyed the splash of color added to Juliana & Ian’s costumes (designed by Chad Phillips) for “the other place” flashback. Mehring’s set design is solid as usual, and very much in keeping with his personal style. That being said, I would like to, at some point, walk into the theater to see one of his sets that, at first glance, makes me think there is a guest set designer.

ETC_The Other Place 04

Billy Chace as The Man. Photo by Ryan Kurtz.

Smartly directed and acted, THE OTHER PLACE is compelling theater.

My rating: 4.25 out of 5

I would enjoy hearing what you think about the show or my review. All I ask is that you express your opinion without attacking someone else’s opinion. You can post your comments below.

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1 Comment

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One response to “THE OTHER PLACE Review

  1. Donna Hoffman

    I saw The Other Place last night and was mostly enthralled by how the script played out. Great writing. Good night at the theatre. Loved the set and thought the acting disappeared into the life of the play and that’s a good thing! However, somewhere in the 90 minutes I wondered why so many shows with older females in the cast tend to be about illness or dementia. Is it because Altzheimers is so very very trendy? And, of course, people under 40 don’t get Altzheimers. Maybe I’m seeing it more in film than live theatre. I don’t know, but isn’t there more about the life of someone over 50 years old to be investigated by playwrights? The tragedy of this couple’s life was more interesting to me than the illness. Wouldn’t it have been interesting if Juliana was getting phone calls from her daughter?

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