"THE OTHER PLACE" A HAUNTING MIND MYSTERY


BONNIE GOLDBERG

Did you ever feel that no matter where you were, you needed to be somewhere else, in "the other place"? New moms often experience it, that when they are with their newborn, there is a pull to be at the office and vice versa. The struggle can be real, an internal tug that causes conflict and uncertainty.

For Juliana Smithton, the struggle is mental and emotional as well as physical and the result is disturbingly authentic. Let TheaterWorks of Hartford draw you into the fray and make you a referee for Juliana's fight for stability as it presents the powerful and poignant "The Other Place" by Sharr White until Saturday, April 19.

One moment Juliana, brought to brilliantly conflicted life by Kate Levy, is the self-assured and confidant pharmaceutical researcher introducing her new drug for dementia patients to a seminar of doctors meeting in a St. Maarten resort. While focused on her detailed presentation, she is distracted by a woman, clad only in a yellow bikini, visible among the sea of physicians, much like an exotic fish coexisting in a flock of crows.

Moments later, she experiences an episode, a frightening medical problem that convinces her that she, at only 52, has a brain tumor, a malady that has afflicted many family members. Her husband Ian is an oncologist specializing in brain cancer so her self-diagnosis seems reasonable.

Ian, a supportive and patient R. Ward Duffy, urges her to seek other opinions and undergo tests and arranges for her to see Dr. Teller (Amelia McClain). With Dr Teller, Juliana confesses Ian is divorcing her and is guilty of unfaithfulness. The fate of their daughter Laurel rises to the surface. As a rebellious teenager, Laurel ran away a decade before with Juliana's post doc assistant Richard (Clark Carmichael). Now that she is ill, Juliana seeks her comforting presence.

As the scenes melt into the past, we witness Juliana's disintegration, a complex mental and emotional journey that leaves tiny stepping stones of memory, exposing the puzzle of her perplexing problems. Rob Ruggiero directs this beautifully tragic mind mystery, with a fine cast of actors making her story all too believable.

For tickets ($50-65, seniors matinees $35), call TheaterWorks, 233 Pearl Street, Hartford at 860-527-7838 or online at www.theaterworkshartford.org. Performances are Tuesday to Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and weekend matinees at 2:30 p.m. Come early to visit the art gallery upstairs.

Juliana's beach house in Cape Cod is "the other place" where she desperately hopes Laurel will reappear and give her life the closure she wants and needs for her family.

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