Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Friday, 1 February 2013
The Other Place, MTC, Jan 31, 2013 ****1/2
White, Melbourne Theatre Company Playhouse,
Melbourne Arts Centre, Jan 31 until March 2, 2013 Reviewer: Kate Herbert Stars: **** ½
Version of this review published in Herald Sun in print and online on Monday Feb 4. KH
Catherine McClements & David Roberts: Photo by David Parker
Sharr White’s play, The
Other Place, is a complex, poignant drama that challenges both actors and
audience with its issues about early onset dementia.
Catherine McClements is
exceptional as Juliana, a renowned geneticist whose research produced a drug to
combat the brain degeneration of dementia.
McClements balances Juliana’s
brittle, cruel and cool style with her irrational raging, her confusion and
unwillingness to accept her own creeping illness that she presumes to be brain
In a series of cunningly
interwoven scenes, we witness several phases of Juliana’s life: presenting her
research to a medical conference, visiting her neurologist, arguing with her
husband and dealing with her teenage-runaway daughter.
David Roberts is
sympathetic and vulnerable as Ian, her beleaguered husband who struggles to
accept and manage his clever wife’s erratic behaviour and rage.
Heidi Arena, playing
multiple characters, is versatile, charming and credible, while David Whiteley
is unobtrusive but essential in two smaller roles.
White’s writing is
intensely intelligent and informed without being didactic or expository. His
dialogue is startlingly real, complex and peppered with acerbic wit, and it
captures the meandering paths and delusions of an ailing mind.
Director, Nadia Tass,
makes the characters the focus of the production, keeping the stage design
(Shaun Gurton) almost empty, and this starkness emphasises the hollowness of
Juliana’s mind and her fading memories.
Huge back projections
depict the technical aspects of the brain but also show us remote but personal
images from Juliana’s past.
Be warned that there is
some strong language and the themes may be confronting for those who are close
to someone with dementia, but the challenge is worth it for a fine piece of