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Monday, 08 February 2010 20:23

Broadway Review: TIME STANDS STILL

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Brian D'Arcy James and Laura Linney in Time Stands Still

Brian D'Arcy James and Laura Linney in Donald Margulies' Time Stands Still
Photo: Joan Marcus

Every now and again a piece of theatre comes along that is so multifaceted and satisfy; Donald Margulies’ new play Time Stands Still which recently opened at Manhattan Theatre Club’s Samual J. Friedman Theatre is that gemIn it he tackles complicated issues that plague all couples relationships.  This case, however is complicated by the fact that this couple are a war photographer and a free-lance reporter.  Both have seen war and both have suffered for their work, he in psychological ways, she in physical. 

At a time when Haiti has just suffered an earthquake with more than 200,000 dead, and the last eight years of war with hundreds of thousands dead, Margulies also confronts us with the morality of chronicling the misery of these people.  Is it just for our own voyeuristic curiosity or does it serve a purpose.  If you are reporting that kind of carnage, how much can the human mind be expected to absorb before it can’t take any more. 

Laura Linny (Sight Unseen) is Sarah Goodwin, a war photographer who is tough-as-nails even after a run-in with a roadside bomb.  Brian D’Arcy James (Shrek), in a well deserved break from theatrical prosthetics and heavy green make-up is her boyfriend of eight years, James Dodd, a free-lance reporter.  They were both working in Iraq covering the war.  She has just returned after being seriously hurt by a roadside bomb.  He returned prior after suffering a mental breakdown.  He bears the additional weight of having left Sarah there alone, or so he thought.  After his departure, Sarah had an affair with their “fixer” (a translator hired by reporters).  He was killed by the road-side bomb that injured Sarah.

Brian D'Arcy James and Laura Linney in Time Stands Still
Laura Linney and Brian D'Arcy James in Donald Margulies' Time Stands Still
Photo: Joan Marcus

Linny and James give outstanding performances as the conflicted Sarah and James.  They both come to an impasse by their careers and what they want from life.  It quickly becomes apparent that they’re trajectories, while they may have intersected these past eight years are starting to diverge.

Sarah’s boss Richard and his new, young girlfriend Mandy, played with a dry comic wit by Eric Bogosian (Talk Radio) is a man some might see as in the throes of a mid-life crisis.  He admittedly lives his life vicariously through Sarah and James and is, after all, a man with a girlfriend half his age.  Mandy is played with believable naiveté by Alicia Silverstone (The Graduate) returning to Broadway for the first time since her ill-fated debut in The Graduate several years ago.  We begin to like Mandy the more we get to spend time with her.  This appears to be the case with both Sarah and James who initially make no bones about the fact that they think this spring/fall relationship is nothing more than physical.

In fact, Richard and Mandy’s relationship at first appears to be that of, in Richard’s own words “one of those creepy middle-aged guys who prey on women half their age .”   But there is more to it than that and that makes James jealous, even more so after finding out that Mandy is pregnant.

Mandy is a terrific role for Silverstone.  During the time span of the play (a year) Silverstone gets the chance to grow from a naïve young girl to a mother who can speak for herself.  In one of the plays many funny moments James is describing getting Sarah out of Iraq after being injured; he says it was like “Brazil” (referring to the 1985 Terry Gilliam film.)  Mandy replies “I’ve never been to South America.”

Alicia Silverstone and Eric Bogosian in Time Stands Still
Alicia Silverstone and Eric Bogosian in Donald Margulies' Time Stands Still
Photo: Joan Marcus
She plays a pivotal role in forcing us to look at war and destruction with human eyes again.  As they look at photos of Sarah’s work Mandy becomes upset at a photo of a dying boy.  She lashes out at Sarah, taking her to task for continuing to shoot rather than taking him to the hospital.  Sarah’s response conveys the complexity of this issue as she explains patiently to her that the camera is there “to capture history, not stage it.”  Despite that, before the end of the play Sarah faces her own demons for her role in the horror she captured with her photos.  Prior to this the events she was recording were just a scene through a view-finder, just a moment in time.

James longs to settle down and even gets Sarah to marry him.  But Sarah thrives on the adrenaline rush of being a war photographer, never knowing what is coming next.  Their needs are not the same.  Anyone who has had a grown-up relationship will identify with both couples in this play.


Daniel Sullivan has directed a talented cast to perfect, layered performances in this terrific new play.  The physical elements with scenery designed by John Lee Beatty, lighting by Peter Kaczorowski and costume design by Rita Ryack serve the production well. 

As of this writing, Time Stands Still has just announced an extension through March 27.  If you can get a ticket, I’d advise you not to miss it.

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Read full production credits at the Internet Broadway Database.

Last modified on Tuesday, 09 February 2010 00:17