Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Other Place (revisited) ***

(Please click on the title to see the complete reiview.)
Are worthy new plays so hard to find that Manhattan Theatre Club must resort to offering subscribers a play that had a perfectly good off-Broadway production just last year? This was my review when I saw the play at MCC Theater April 17, 2011:

A gripping performance by Laurie Metcalf overcame qualms I had about some of the plot points in Sharr White's new drama at the Lucille Lortel. Metcalf plays a prickly research scientist who has an "episode" during a lecture to a group of doctors. In a kaleidoscope of brief scenes that move backward and forward in time, we gradually learn that all is not what it seems. When all the pieces fall into place and we understand what really ails her, the effect is devastating. Dennis Boutsikaris is excellent as her husband and Aya Cash succeeds in multiple roles. John Schiappa has very little opportunity to shine. The stark set by Eugene Lee and the lighting by Justin Townsend are very effective. Joe Mantello ably directed this MCC production. The play's 80 minutes flew by. Although sometimes painful to watch, Metcalf's riveting performance made it worthwhile.

I found that this is not a play that improves with a second viewing. The rapid alternation of short scenes was more annoying than intriguing this time. The weakness of some plot points stood out more. Daniel Stern and Zoe Perry have assumed the roles of the husband and The Woman; I preferred their counterparts at MCC. Although it's always worthwhile to see Laurie Metcalf, even her bravura performance seemed less nuanced In the new production. Eugene Lee's abstract set seemed overwhelming and the frequent use of harsh fluorescent lighting by Justin Townsend was unpleasant. I still don't understand how having Metcalf sit in a chair onstage for 15 minutes before the play begins improves anything. Running time: 80 minutes without intermission.

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