The Other Place by Sharr White.
Directed by John Bishop.
Juliana Smithton is a successful neurologist whose life seems to be coming unhinged. But in this brilliantly crafted work, nothing is as it seems. Piece by piece, a mystery unfolds as fact blurs with fiction, past collides with present and the elusive truth about Juliana boils to the surface.
Juliana – Tracey McKeague
Ian – Michael Baker
The Man – Todd J Curtis
The Woman – Jessica Hargreaves
|Stage Manager||Julie Maclean|
|Props & Projection||Catherine Whitehead|
|Program and Front of House Manager||Lisa Berry|
|Stage Manager Mentor||Zina Carman|
|Producer Mentor||Gay Bell|
|Set build||Michael Baker|
|Set dressing / furniture||Teresa Stipcevich|
|Set painting||June Marks and George Carman|
Many thanks again to our front-of-house volunteers and RSA staff who do all the stock management, accounting, catering, cleaning, washing, locking up and turning off the lights long after the patrons have left.
March 16 – 25 2023 – Competing with the start of footy season, St Patricks Day, Rod Stewart and Cindy Lauper (Day on the Green), Airey’s Inlet Festival (and maybe the Port Fairy Folk Festival. 10-13 March)
REVIEW – Colin Mockett
The Other Place is simply brilliant
The Other Place, directed by John Bishop for Torquay Theatre Troupe, Shoestring Theatre, March 16, 2023
Last October this company staged Harp On The Willow in this theatre. That play featured Tracey McKeague as the tragic Irish harpist nun, Mary O’Hara, while Michael Baker played her awkward alcoholic antagonist.
This production placed the same two actors again centerstage, but in different roles and very changed circumstances.
The Other Place is set in America and its storyline tackles probably the biggest fear of our ageing babyboomer generation – the stealthy onset of dementia and its many disguises.
This time Tracey McKeague played Juliana Smithton, a smart, highly successful neurologist who is engaged on a lecture tour promoting a new genetic treatment for the disease to audiences of medical professionals.
Against this background, her own personal life is going through a series of crises. Her marriage is on the rocks, her doctor husband had diagnosed her with a terminal brain tumour and her daughter was keeping her husband and twin daughters away from her.
All this she confided in asides to us, her (real) audience while delivering her lecture, complete with powerpoint slides, at a hotel medical convention.
She’s also puzzled by a girl in a yellow bikini sitting unconcerned among the throng of doctors; while troubled by recurring memories of The Other Place – a family retreat used by her family in the past.
And if that’s not enough, she’s also getting flashback memories of a therapy session with a female specialist who she suspects is having an affair with her husband.
To convey all this in the course of a lecture presentation is a challenging task which Tracey McKeague completed with superb acting skills.
And when her husband appears, played by another consummate actor in Michael Baker – sometimes in her thoughts, at other times in person – the play’s questions and dilemmas compound.
Because in this production, nothing was as it first seemed. The Other Place has to be the ultimate mystery play, in that we were all drawn into the uncertainties of dementia’s unpredictabilities until, piece by piece, explanations emerged.
In this short 80-minute play, with no interval, we were given a clear insight into early dementia, where facts blurred with fiction, beliefs were fleeting and time either telescoped or stayed static.
The Other Place is a fascinating play that’s beautifully written by Sharr White and carefully directed by John Bishop, with uncomplicated simplicity on a stylish, clever and well-lit set.
All this combined to make an ultra-believable scenario that kept its audience absorbed and then left them with plenty of situations to take home, unpack and translate for themselves.
But above all else, for this reviewer, TTT’s The Other Place left a memory of a beautifully balanced and nuanced central acting performance from Tracey McKeague, which was supported by three pitch-perfect performers in Michael Baker, Todd J Curtis and Jessica Hargreaves.
In all, TTT’s The Other Place is a piece of brilliant theatre on a difficult and highly sensitive subject of concern to us all.
Don’t miss it.
– Colin Mockett