The whole thing would be easier to do if this was a movie. No quick scene changes (and there are a lot of them) to figure out. “We can’t wait 15 minutes while they pull a sofa out,” says director Don Stephenson. But he eagerly accepted the challenge, both because of his long-term good relationship with Alley Theatre Artistic Director Gregory Boyd and because he believes The Other Place is a wonderful enterprise.
“It’s a heavy-duty drama. It’s a devastating play. That’s the challenge always. It’s a great, great play that Sharr White has written. The play sort of unfolds like a mystery. You don’t put all the pieces together until the very end. It’s almost like a detective story.”
Four actors make up the cast in the one-act, which runs about 85-90 minutes, Stephenson says, and during the play, audience members don’t quite know (and we’re not about to reveal) why main character Juliana (Josie de Guzman ) is so troubled. She’s an expert neurologist but seems very confused. Is she misunderstanding something? Are the people around her wrong?
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“We sort of reveal a little about what's going on inside of her head. Is it clear thinking or distorted in some way? When you’re talking about how the brain functions is not like a straight line,” Stephenson says. The plot moves back and forth in time during the 85-90 minutes it takes the one-act to unfold.
But all is not tension, he promises. “There is a lot of humor in the play. You’ve got to have some kind of relief. We have a group of actors [Nick Farco as The Man, John Jellison as Ian and Ashley Austin Morris as The Woman] that are able to do those shifts.”
Commenting on the fact that the farce One Man, Two Guvnors is playing on the main stage at the Alley at the same time as The Other Place is in the Alley’s downstairs, more intimate theater, Stephenson says: “This is the opposite end of the spectrum from One Man, Two Guvnors and isn’t that great? You could go upstairs and see this ridiculous silly thing which I just love and is so funny. And then you can go downstairs and sort of have your heart ripped out. Something for everybody.”
The Other Place opens October 28 and runs through November 15 at 7:30 o.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdarys and 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas, Neuhaus Theatre Through November 15. For information visit alleytheatre.org or call 713.220.5700. $26-$45.