The Other Place and B. Smith

Laurie Metcalf, beloved dimpled actress from “Roseanne,” plays super successful Jules, type-A, age 52, promoter for a pharmaceutical company, wife of oncologist Ian, played by engaging actor Bill Pullman. Speaking at a medical conference in the Virgin Islands, she first notices signs that she is losing it.

“Are you flirting with suicidal thoughts, Juliana?” her doctor asks. “I’m dating them, actually — but they won’t put out.” Laurie Metcalf is so grounded, so cool, that she makes creaky dialogue sound like Shakespeare. Ian arrives to pick her up. Juliana has a diagnosis of early dementia. Alone, she breaks away and drives to “the other place,” the family summerhouse in Cape Cod.

It was sold fifteen years ago. The house’s new owner arrives to find she’d let herself in with old keys and believes she still owns the place. What unfolds is unexpectedly tender and even heartbreaking, with Zoe Perry in the role of the new owner (as well as other female parts).

There is an entirely gratuitous subplot about a murdered daughter that the play should lose in future incarnations if it knows what it’s doing. We predict Laurie Metcalf will win Best Actress at the Tony Awards 2013, in spite of a weak play, uninspired direction, lack of opportunities for humor, and a metallic set with bad feng shui.

Beforehand, we returned to soul food restaurant B. Smith to see what they offered pre-matinee. Once or twice we’ve been there in its 26-year history. It isn’t that we don’t love B. Smith that we don’t go more often just that there are too many fish in the sea regarding New York restaurants.

B. Smith (Barbara Smith) is the iconic African-American supermodel who blazed a trail in the 60s and 70s. In an appearance with Fred Rogers on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, B. said her dream was to feed people, and that she fed her dolls when she was a child. Today she has three restaurants (another in D.C. and one in Sag Harbor).

Most nights she presides over Theatre Row B. Smith, following her hosting of her two-hour radio program. It has a tall buttress design based on Gare d'Orsay in Paris and is as spacious as the portions are generous. The staff treats you so well, and the background music is as relaxing as a massage. Fried green tomatoes, an app, is crispy, with brightly colored toppings, enough for a meal. Delicious! B. Smith remakes soul food to keep it healthy for the most part – like black-eyed peas hummus with wilted vegetables.

We toasted our Peach Long Island Iced Teas and moved on to slow-braised short ribs over garlic mashed potatoes, fried chicken on a waffle. Side dishes of kale and collard greens were wilted and tender, fresh. Everything was flavorful and juicy, nothing overcooked. Those fried green tomatoes have to be calorie bombs. We can’t imagine what a former haute couture model orders at her own restaurant. It can’t be the fried chicken on a waffle, served with hot sauce, melted butter, and maple syrup. Strong coffee and Bourbon Street bourbon bread pudding with cinnamon ice cream set us up before we tripped off to our matinee.