The Other Thing: Theater review by Sandy MacDonald
Ghosts are a touchy topic for D.C.-based journalist Kim (Samantha Soule), seeing as, unbeknownst to her, she’s sharing her psyche with a doozy—but playwright Emily Schwend keeps that revelation in reserve for a good long time. The first half of The Other Thing is mostly talk and exceedingly tame.
By way of research, Kim has embedded herself with a couple of hick ghost hunters—a know-it-all father and his resentful adult son (James Kautz and John Doman)—on a nightlong vigil in rural Virginia. Her interview questions, while eliciting an interesting tale or two, make for slow going. Nearly an hour elapses, tension-free, until the older man starts to bridle at what he perceives as skepticism coming from a “big-city bitch.” Trigger time! Clutching her stomach and writhing in pain, Kim transforms, Exorcist-style, into a fire-breathing feminist, and not your typical well-intentioned egalitarian: She’s subgenus Solanas.
It’s a shame that Schwend limits Kim’s dissociative identity disorder to a mere two modes—mild-mannered or murderous—because Soule is capable of far subtler shadings. Promise flickers at the top of the second act, when Kim delivers a fairy-tale–like origin story about “a very good little girl” and her warring parents. That frisson soon dissipates, though, with a return to the narrative through-line: There’s a body count to maintain. Toward the end, Bhavesh Patel puts in an all-too-brief appearance as a model semi–ex-boyfriend: charming, devoted and very likely doomed. His offense? Insisting that he and Kim need to talk. Men and their feelings…the nerve!—Sandy MacDonald
McGinn/Cazale Theatre (Off Broadway). By Emily Schwend. Directed by Lucie Tiberghien. With Samantha Soule, James Kautz, John Doman, Bhavesh Patel. Running time: 2hrs. One intermission.