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The Other Place

The complexity of the brain is a marvel, providing incredible insights into the nature of the universe and consciousness. It is also a very delicate organ that is susceptible to altered states and dysfunction when its underlying chemistry changes.

(Left to right) Erica Young as The Woman, Rachel Fowler as Juliana, and Josh Hartwell as Ian
(L to R) Erica Young as The Woman,
Rachel Fowler as Juliana,
and Josh Hartwell as Ian
In Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's regional premiere of Sharr White's The Other Place, Juliana (Rachel Fowler) is a biochemist turned entrepreneur whose budding success is interrupted by an elusive medical issue. Her husband, Ian (Josh Hartwell), an MD, eventually diagnoses the problem, which has also come to threaten their marriage.

The symptoms of Juliana's affliction are mirrored in White's spacetime-bending story, swiftly and effectively eliciting our sympathy for Juliana, Ian, and anyone else touched by this devastating illness.

But White's story is not a tragedy; rather, it is a psychological thriller in which the outcome is ever in doubt, depending on our interpretation of the cleverly sequenced events. Such dramatic craft and ambiguity warrants a favorable comparison to Oleanna and Doubt, which still have us scratching our heads.

Rachel Fowler as Juliana
Rachel Fowler as Juliana
Fowler is a tour de force—fully committed to each non-sequential event—in a sense, in every scene she's a different character (or two), all of whom put us and everyone in her life to the test.

Ian bears the brunt of Juliana's frequently weaponized-by-illness razor-sharp wit, which Hartwell deftly navigates, with a myriad of nuances revealing the ways in which his patience and compassion are severely pushed.

Juliana's daughter, doctor, and even a stranger (Erica Young) bear her alternate versions of reality with varying degrees of willingness. Young's triple-casting, and her subtle shadings therein, raises ambiguity to an artform.

Benaiah Anderson as The Man and Rachel Fowler as Juliana
Benaiah Anderson as The Man
and Rachel Fowler as Juliana
Benaiah Anderson, as Juliana's former grad student is a haunting and ghostly presence.

For most of us, having our mind "play tricks on us" is a turn of phrase to describe an occasional lapse here and there; but when such events become a permanent part of our mental sequencing, what then? In Fowler's brave performance, we find solace in Juliana's tenacious capacity to hang on.

Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company's regional premiere of Sharr White'sThe Other Place runs through April 7th. For more information: 720-898-7200 or boulderensembletheatre.org/.

Bob Bows

 

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