THE OTHER PLACE, The Park Theatre, Finsbury Park, London
Having played in various venues in the US, Shaar White's The Other Place has crossed the pond to its London venue, the Park Theatre (Finsbury Park) under the skillful and talented direction of Claire van Kampen and her fabulously talented cast of Karen Archer, Eliza Collings, Neil McCaul and Rupinder Nagra. This is a production not to be missed and I would recommend that you try to get tickets at this venue which offers close proximity to the actors and a superb setting, enhanced by the considered set design (Jonathan Fensom) and wonderful lighting effects (Paul Russell).

Quick witted, feisty, sardonic are terms which could  sum up our protagonist Juliana (Karen Archer) who first appears on stage as a highly successful neurologist, presenting her lecture on brain activity to doctors in the audience. She has spent years researching the decline of brain neurons which lead to dementia and is a leading professor on this topic. A strong woman, controlling and confident, who sadly declines into the mental confusion of her degenerating mind. Did she really see a bikini clad doctor among her audience? And as we progress, we are aware that she has crossed the line of reality and entered into delusion, where her need for truth creates a new reality and meaning.

During her lecture, Juliana recognises that she is experiencing 'episodes' and seeks a medical diagnosis, hoping that she will be the victim of a curable brain tumour. That would certainly explain her behaviour and would thus be acceptable. But this is not the case and, without giving too much of the script away, we see the ironic and devastating decline of this expert in her field.

Her husband Ian (Neil McCaul) shares his heartache and agony as he watches the cruel fading of the strong, passionate woman with whom he fell in love. 'The saddest thing is how cruel it's made you.'

Both Eliza Collings and Rupinder Nagra (cast as the Woman and the Man) play different roles in the reality/unreality of Juliana's behaviour. As spectators, we are confused as to what is actual and what is an illusion, raising the question of whether reality exists only in the experience of its owner.

Performances are immensely poignant and Archer's portrayal of Juliana's agony is sublime. Her performance is fearless and she exposes the desperation of the experience in the character's more lucid moments.Now we understand her cruelty and barbed humour. It is a mask under which lies her unfolding tragedy. She is a woman 'in between' who has created strategies to deflect from pain and vulnerability.
 
The Other Place takes its title from the second home on Cape Cod, where the couple had spent many happy times together. But it serves too as a metaphor for the other place where there might be a mental refuge of safety from the cruelty of confusion and unreality.
 
I cannot praise this production highly enough and would urge you all to go and see it. Passing through the gathered throng who were assembling in the foyer at the close of the play, all were sharing the same reaction. This is a wonderful play performed with strength, integrity and credibility by its committed and fabulous cast.

A Park Theatre and Theatre by the Lake co-production in association with Abinger Productions.

Photography:  Mark Douet

THE OTHER
PLACE


 

Venue: Park200, Park
Theatre, Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park, N4 3JP
Dates: 19 Sep – 20
Oct 2018


Age guidance: 15+


Performances: Mon – Sat
Evenings 7.30pm, Thu & Sat Matinees 3pm.


Captioned: Fri 12 Oct,
7.30pm


Parents & Babies: Thu 18 Oct, 1pm

Prices: 
Previews
£18.50,Standard £18.50 - £32.50, Concessions £16.50-£23.50
 

Booking: www.parktheatre.co.uk /
020 7870
6876

 
 Running
time: 75 minutes with no interval