In “Time Stands Still” by Donald Margulies we have four contemporary people who are trying to put their lives back together under the stable and subtle direction of Daniel Sullivan. A Manhattan Theatre Club production at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, running through March 14th.
There is Sarah (Laura Linney) a photo journalist who is returning from her latest assignment after being hit by a road side bomb. She has visible scars, walks with a leg brace and a crutch, has attitude and is foremost worried about her cameras as she comes home to Williamsburg, Brooklyn with her journalist boyfriend of eight and a half years, James (Brian d’Arcy James) who is recovering from some sort of mental breakdown after seeing some women blown up right before his eyes.
Yes, war is hell especially on the front lines where these two write and photograph the indecencies of war. Where they are there only to record life and not change it. They are both broken to some extent and in “Time Stands Still” we see them trying to recover their lives singly and together and trying to decide what to do next.
There is Sarah’s editor Richard (Eric Bogosian) who has replaced his long time girl friend with a much younger, seemingly unaware and naïve Mandy (Alicia Silverstone) an events planner.
They supply most of the humor in this otherwise serious treatise on marriage, career aspirations, caring for a loved one who is wounded, happiness, whether it is correct to make a living documenting the suffering of others, replacing real horror with fake horror and the debate over unwed people having the right to decide what happens to their other half in a hospital. Lots of territory is covered here. It is very interestingly and intelligently written. And expertly performed by the four actors.
They all undergo some change during the course of the two acts and that is very satisfying to see. Maybe not as satisfying for the characters as some of the changes are not exactly what they expected.
On another functional and appropriate unit set designed by John Lee Beatty (who seems to have a monopoly in this field) the scenes flow nicely, aided by the original music of Peter Golub and lighting design by Peter Kaczorowski. But you go to see this show for the performances. You will not be disappointed.
Laura Linney has the spunk, sarcasm and vulnerability necessary to bring Sarah to painful life. Reminiscent of the high standard of acting from Meryl Streep, Ms. Linney holds our attention, giving a finely layered, moving performance. Mr. d’Arcy James exposes his torment with coming to grips with his career and life with strong and sensitive pulling him in opposing directions. Eric Bogosian imbues his character with warmth and humor as his young girlfriend (Alicia Silverstone) acts the foil in bringing up some serious topics and is delightful as she matures as the plot, little as there is, thickens.
There aren’t many fireworks going off here, despite all the talk of war. But there are some very interesting and entertaining thoughts that provoke us into thinking about these wounded and recovering souls. www.ManhattanTheatreClub.com Photo credit: Joan Marcus