Review: Time Stands Still

Originally reviewed for

Manhattan Theatre Club does very well with plays by Donald Margulies. His Sight Unseen was the first play to be an unqualified success in their Broadway theatre in 2004 (called the Biltmore at the time, now called the Friedman). His Brooklyn Boy received a similar reception the following season. Now, after a break of a few seasons, the Friedman will play host this spring to not one but two Margulies premieres, Time Stands Still and Collected Stories.

Time Stands Still also reunites Margulies with his leading lady from Sight Unseen, the luminous Laura Linney. Here Linney plays brilliant and acclaimed photojournalist Sarah, who has been seriously injured by a bomb while working in a war zone. Her journalist boyfriend James (Brian d’Arcy James, fresh from Shrek), is nursing her back to health, and is also nursing the notion of them leaving war coverage behind and settling down.

Margulies is best at portraying the subtle, quiet moments when people connect or ever so slightly miss connecting, and there’s plenty of that here. He’s also probing into the ethical and psychological baggage of relatively privileged people who make it their business to document the world’s worst miseries.

Sarah stands squarely at the crux of this probe, as the character most driven to cover the world, in spite of nearly losing her life in that pursuit. Linney is a marvel, investing Sarah with serious gravitas and deep emotions that percolate suddenly and unexpectedly to the surface. James definitely holds his own opposite Linney, making a very strong case for the simple, comfortable life.

Eric Bogosian and Alicia Silverstone make terrific appearances as Sarah’s editor and his new girlfriend, putting the central couple’s struggle in the context of the wider world. If I have one beef with Margulies, it would be the play’s lack of an explicit argument for the importance of the press. That said, the play’s powerful final moment makes a sudden, visceral impression that pulls the whole thing together in one potent image — arguably what Sarah’s been doing all along.

For tickets, click here.

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