When your timeline stops moving in one direction, the World becomes confused, writes Karen Morley-Chesworth. The Other Place by Sharr White captures that frustration and turbulence from the perspective of Juliana living with the disease and her doctor husband, Ian living through the nightmare with her.
For Juliana, a scientist who has dedicated her life to developing a drug to combat the deterioration of the human brain, cancer is a more comforting diagnosis than dementia.
Karen Archer as Juliana gives a gutsy, realistic portrayal of an educated woman, of a certain age, grappling with the reality of her condition, and of the family’s haunting past. This is a tragedy on two levels – a family torn apart by loss in two forms. A family which has no choice – the outcome is never going to be a happy ever after.
Neil McCaul as Ian, captures the frustration of loving a person who is fading away, yet not quietly from their life.
The Other Place is a Theatre by the Lake and London’s Park Theatre co-production, which is also the UK premiere. The quick witty lines, like machine gun fire from the smart, intellectual and formidable Juliana cut through the air like silver bullets. Like a wild animal corner, this expert, wife and mother is fighting to keep her pride, respect and sanity.
Despite her rages, accusations and vile verbal assaults, Ian cannot help but to continue to love this woman, with whom he has already shared the darkest days and loss a family can be sentence to.
Human tragedy undercurrent
The undercurrent of this human tragedy, is the mystery around the disappearance of their daughter and suicide of a former colleague.
From the safe distance of the auditorium you assume you can observe this couple’s desperate desire to make things right – yet the carefully crafted script provides the tension to touch the inner fears of everyone watching. There is no escape from the unforgiving memory of something you wish you had never done. The imprint of that unrelenting reminder in the minds and hearts of a mistake shows through the new, demented reality.
Deeply touching performance
Archer’s performance touches deep inside and you can’t escape the question of – what if that was me? The way the play drags her randomly from one era to another within her lifetime, unceremonially dropping her into the most painful times of her life, then dragging her into a present of misplaced hope. This is a woman use to control, now unable to help herself.
Eliza Collings as The Women and Rupinder Nagra as The Man represent how the outside world misunderstands and is confused as much as the person living with dementia – neither no what is real or imagined.
Quick & funny script
The pace of this production captures the speed at which dementia is taking over the lives of this couple – it is an isolating condition for both parties. Jumping through time, the narrative is all consuming. The script is quick and funny, as well as aggressive and painful. Director Claire Van Kampen has orchestrated this production to perfection.
This 80 minute, one act play is no walk in the park, yet it is gripping, emotional and unmissable.
- The Other Place by Sharr White run in the Main House, Theatre by the Lake until 10 November, 2018 for more details and to book tickets visit www.theatrebythelake.com