Laurie Metcalf, perhaps best known for her part in the television series Rosanne, is, in New York theater circles, actor's actor supreme. That accolade was well-deserved Monday night at the world premiere of the MCC production of The Other Place at the Lucille Lortel theater. There, in that venerable West Village venue, paired with Dennis Boutsikaris, her co-star from the short lived production of Neil Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs, she plays Juliana Smithton, a well-dressed scientist addressing a meeting of doctors in St. Thomas on the subject of pharmaceuticals who loses composure distracted by a girl in a yellow string bikini, a possible vision caused by a brain tumor.
Harrowing as the prospect of cancer is, a question arises as to whether or not she really has that dreaded disease -- or something else. In short order we see that this professional is coping with a personal matter, the disappearance of her 15-year-old from the family's second home on Cape Cod. Having created a mental picture of the daughter's life after this cataclysmic event, the inconsolable Juliana suffers delusions, breaking into her former vacation home where the new resident (Aya Cash, fine in a variety of roles) feeds her Chinese food until she is picked up. John Schiappa rounds out the cast.
Sharr White wrote this 75-minute tour de force of narrative ingenuity, successfully accomplishing a description of the deterioration of a demented person's experience. Juliana may not be the delicate Blanche DuBois, but you feel her pain.
Filing out of the Laura Pels were Josh Hamilton, part of the recent Three Sisters ensemble at CSC, Thomas Sadoski of the MCC production of Reasons to be Pretty, and many others. Eric Bogosian, the famed monologist who starred in last year's Time Stands Still said of Metcalf's performance, that was the most powerful I've ever seen anywhere. Joe Mantello deserves high praise for his expert direction. A Broadway fixture, he joins the company of The Normal Heart, when it reopens, but this time as actor to be directed by Joel Grey.
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