Described as New York’s most moving play of the year, Sharr White’s The Other Place drops you into a gripping thriller that keeps you gasping at every turn.
Currently enjoying an amazing Broadway run, where critics are floored by Laurie Metcalf's performance, The Other Place (where even brilliant minds change) comes to the Melbourne Theatre Company this month starring one of Australia's most prolific, well respected and talented actors, Catherine McClements.
As well as memorable performances for TV and the bigger screen, McClements has enjoyed a stage career of some note having previously appeared for MTC in Cruel and Tender and Angels in America. Her other theatre appearances include, for Company B Belvoir, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, It Just Stopped (also for Malthouse Theatre), Macbeth, Suddenly Last Summer, and The Blind Giant is Dancing; for Sydney Theatre Company, The Crucible; for Anthill, The Imaginary Invalid and Moliere; for Playbox, Away; and for State Theatre Company of South Australia, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, The Winter’s Tale, Shepherd on the Rocks, Much Ado About Nothing, and Away.
McClements' lead roles in Rush, Tangle, CrashBurn, After the Deluge, and Water Rats, head a long list of television appearances, which also include The Falls, Call Me Mum, Mary Bryant, The Secret Life of Us, Waiting at the Royal, Tomorrow’s End, and My Brother Tom but it is a small film she did with the director Miro Billbrough called ‘Floodhouse’ that McClements identifies as her most challenging role to date. "I was cast without auditioning so always felt uncomfortable that I didn’t somehow prove that I was right for the role. As a director, Miro is quite esoteric, sensitive and wonderfully oblique. The dialogue untiedownable and so you could never nail anything down. Brilliant of her, scary for me."
Dr Juliana Smithton is an intelligent, forthright and somewhat uncompromising academic and just as her research is leading to a potential scientific breakthrough, her life takes a disorientating twist. From the moment she spots the girl in the yellow bikini a mystery begins to unfold that will engulf her brilliant mind. All she knows is that people are telling her lies, her husband is in on it, and that it all began long ago at The Other Place. Hailed as a stunning, frantic and moving piece of theatre, The Other Place is a psychological drama by playwright Sharr White whose other plays include Annapurna, Sunlight and Achilles in Sparta and according to McClements focuses on the unreliability of language, consciousness and reality. It is also an amazingly challenging piece of work for any actor in the role of Juliana. The non linear narrative of the script, which McClement says, " can make it tricky at times" allows the story to travel from past to present, facts to blur with fiction as Juliana’s world unravels in conflicting, puzzle-like pieces.
McClements' love affair with performing came in kindergarten when she saw a production of ‘Peter and the Wolf’. "I still remember it, so it must have left an impression on me," she says having had an amazing career since graduating from NIDA in 1985 but how difficult is it to remain a working actor in Australia? McClements is pragmatic and says; " Every job you feel is your last and nothing means anything as far as a linear career it seems." It has then been a fortuitous meet for McClements and acclaimed theatre, film and TV director, Nadia Tass who approached McClements to be part of the project.
A good director, says McClements, possesses patience and attention to detail. A love of human beings and an instinct for the right path are also great qualities. "Rehearsing is always terrifying because you lose perspective and don’t know how it is shaping up," she says. " But with this show, as we’ve been rehearsing over the Christmas and New Year’s period, it’s also been quite a luxurious experience because the rehearsal space has been so peaceful and quiet; so we’ve really been able to focus."
The Other Place is a powerful and emotionally satisfying piece. MTC Artistic Director Brett Sheehy says: "We are delighted with the success of The Other Place on Broadway and look forward to an equally exciting and successful Australian season."
McClements concurs and would like the audience to leave with a sense of hope as well as thinking “those actors were really good”. She adds: "It’s the best production of this play Australia has ever seen."
The Other Place Venue: Arts Centre Melbourne, Playhouse Season dates: 26 January to 2 March 2013 mtc.com.au