Theater Review / THE OTHER PLACE presented by Fringe Theater Key West

Directed by Rebecca Tomlinson

Review by Emily Berg

If you’ve have yet to see The Other Place, the latest production from Fringe theater, get your tickets now. Perhaps you’ve hesitated because it sounds “heavy” and, well… it is. But in the best possible way and with a story and performances that make it a gift to experience. 

I generally see shows very early in their run, opening night and sometimes sooner. This time I attended The Other Place on it’s fourth night of production. Because of this I’d already heard some buzz around town, all positive but enough that the subject had me a little reluctant. It’s not a spoiler to say that the play deals with dementia. It’s rare at this point for one to not have or have had someone in their life living with the neurological symptoms of dementia. I am no exception and while I don’t try to avoid it in art I did worry it might make for an unhappy theater experience. 

This is far from the truth. 

The play centers around Juliana, a 52-year old medical researcher who’s life has come unhinged. As the program describes it: “Divorce, marital affairs, and an estranged daughter create the backdrop to an unfolding mystery.” And that’s really what the play is, a mystery.  

Juliana is played by Wende Shoer who is a powerful force on the stage. Shoer takes you on a ride with Juliana. The character is confident and sure even as it’s clear all is not right. Shoer’s very subtle vulnerably makes it feel ok to worry about the character but not pity her. 

Juliana’s world very carefully unfolds as we meet the other people in her life. Her husband, Ian, who is played by Michael Mulligan at first glance seems a possible villain. But of course it’s never so simple. The tension between the husband and wife is obvious but the source is not. This is aided by Mulligan’s wonderful performance. Ian could have easily gone pompous but Mulligan keeps him patient and humble, enough so that when he does lose his composure it’s potent. 

A variety of other important characters are played by Martha Hooten-Hattingh and Richard Quint. Hooten-Hattingh in particular is given the opportunity to show a wide range and does so wonderfully. She and Quint are a quiet presence in the play, even when not on stage. They’re always there, on the periphery of the story Juliana tells.  

And this is the beauty of the play, and this production in particular. It’s Juliana’s story and it’s not a linear one. Like all great mysteries it isn’t always clear what is real and what is deception or even from where the deception is coming. The set is sparse which aids in the puzzlement. The lighting is dramatic and used thoughtfully to reinforce Juliana’s experience.

I worried The Other Place might hit too close to home to be enjoyed. This was not true. The drama is so strong and the mystery so appealing that I couldn’t help but be enthralled. Julian’s story is so uniquely hers that while I could relate to parts I was thinking less of my own life and more about her’s. 

THE OTHER PLACE runs now through April 22 at 600 White Street in the Armory. Tickets are available at

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