Epic Theatre Explores The Other Place

Emily Lewis as Juliana in The Other PlaceEpic Theatre Company, in residence at The Artists’ Exchange in Cranston, RI, continues its Year of Fear with The Other Place, a new contemporary drama by Sharr White. It runs from now until November 23 at the Black Box, 50 Rolfe Square. This play is so new it premiered on Broadway less than a year ago. After seeing the play on Broadway, Kevin Broccoli, Epic Theatre’s founder, knew it was perfect for his theater to produce.  It’s even set in New England.

Lara Hakeem makes her directorial debut with The Other Place and is thrilled to have such great material to work with. Broccoli loves the play. “For one thing, it’s tight. That’s not a word you often hear people use to describe theater, but it’s the perfect word to describe this play. It runs a short 90 minutes of pure story, character, and mystery,” reveals Broccoli.

Juliana (Emily Lewis) is a professional, well-educated, woman in charge of her own life. She is making the rounds introducing a new possible miracle drug for the medical community, based on her own research. Lewis gives a stunning performance that requires a wrenching transformation; one barely recognizes her near the end of the play. At the top of the show, Lewis sounds confident. She rattles off the medical jargon during her presentation at the speed of light. Frankly, I’d like the opening to begin just a tad slower. The medical terms aren’t the problem, but several characters are introduced by Juliana. It takes a little while to catch up to who is who when we finally see the characters.

Juliana is demanding and short tempered, as anyone under pressure can be. She is pressured to successfully pitch a new drug to the pharmaceutical representatives; she is also selling her expertise as a woman in a man’s (science) world. At the same time, she is desperate to reconcile with her estranged daughter, and she is convinced her husband, Ian (Robert C. Reynolds) is cheating on her and wants a divorce.

The play does not give us much of a glimpse into Ian’s perspective at first. He seems like an average, long-suffering husband, often puzzled by his wife’s behavior. Eventually, Ian’s motives and behaviors are revealed. Robert C. Reynolds is a solid, stabilizing presence – the perfect counterpart to Juliana’s increasingly volatile behavior. Reynolds remains steadfast, but eventually emotional, matching Juliana’s overbearing presence at just the right level.

Both Lewis and Reynolds have asides to the audience. These brief, direct addresses are delivered with such vulnerability, they feel like a good friend sharing gossip.  Kerry Giorgi and Aaron Morris are excellent as supporting players.

The Other Place has a “Pay What You Can” night on Wednesday, November 13 at 7 pm. It continues on Friday and Saturday, November 15, 16 and 22, 23 all at 8 pm. To purchase tickets, contact The Artists’ Exchange at 401-490-9475 or artists-exchange.org.

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