by Michelle Griskey
The play, “The Other Place” by Sharr White opens with a drug company scientist, Juliana Smithton, speaking at a pharmaceutical conference in the Virgin Islands. She’s confident and ready to prove herself to a roomful of male doctors. But, something goes wrong. For one thing, there’s a young woman wearing a yellow bikini in the audience, and Juliana experiences a disturbing emotional episode.
These things do not make sense, but as Juliana’s narrative unwinds with a series of flashbacks and present day scenes, the story comes into focus. The audience navigates the waters of Juliana’s thoughts. Her life is not what it seems, and she is unwilling to embrace her past or her present, particularly the truth about her relationship with her daughter, Laurel. Juliana is like a ball whirling around a funnel going faster and faster in her descent directly into her greatest fears. The truth is painful, grotesque even, yet a glimmer of hope emerges and radiates like the sun.
Aaimee Johnson excels at her role as Juliana Smithton and captures the vertiginous emotions of a woman caught between lucidity and loss with beauty and grace. Kevin Doyle plays her husband, Ian Smithton, with absolute emotional vulnerability as he navigates both his love and frustration over his wife’s condition. Bethany Marie plays three different characters—Dr. Teller, Laurel, and a Woman—all with conviction. She makes each character work as separate people. Travis Baker also steps convincingly into three supporting roles—the Tech Guy, Richard, and Bobby. The actors clearly did their homework in finding the emotional core of each of the characters.
Doug Bechtel directs “The Other Place,” once again finding just the right play for the island. Bella Schermerhorn is the Stage Manager, and Miguel Villarreal created an intriguing set. Grace Zwilling plays a poignant part in a video feed as well. A whole host of volunteers also stepped up to made this play happen.
Don’t miss this excellent drama! If you wear makeup, wear waterproof mascara, and all audience members should have a wad of tissues on hand.
Language and subject matter may make this play unsuitable for pre-teens and younger.
“The Other Place” continues at 7:30 p.m. at The Grange on September 15, 16, 22, 23 and 24. Tickets are $10 and are available at Darvills Book Store, on-line at www.orcasactors.org and at the door. For additional information, contact Doug Bechtel at 360-317-5601.