The measure of a great play is in the depth and breadth of the emotional range it calls upon its actors to explore. Time Stands Still a co-production with the Delaware Theatre Company and currently running at Act II Playhouse until March 11th, more than amply stacks up to this criteria. The Philadelphia-area premiere of this engrossing 2010-11 Broadway drama by Donald Margulies has been given a beautifully crafted production under the deft hands of director, Bud Martin.
Director Bud Martin first saw “Time Stands Still” when it was originally produced at The Manhattan Theatre Club in March of 2010. He became one of its commercial producers bringing the play to Broadway during the 2010/11 season where it won a Tony nomination.
Sarah (Susan McKey), a photojournalist and James (Kevin Kelly), a foreign
correspondent are anything but a conventional couple. When Sarah is
seriously wounded in Iraq by a roadside bomb, she comes home to
Brooklyn to recuperate. James, who himself has had a nervous breakdown
from his own war experiences, helps Sarah get back on her feet. But
tensions arise when it becomes apparent that Sarah needs to return to
the deadly chaos while James desperately yearns to escape it. The play
not only raises the question of how do people adjust from living in a
war zone back into a peaceful existence. It also asks, “What is a
photographer’s/journalist’s moral obligation when witnessing the
atrocities of war, genocide and famine?”
The set design by Dirk Durosette is a diligently realistic apartment interior with a functioning sink and a coffee maker that brews coffee the actors can actually drink. We see a partial skyline of Williamsburg, Brooklyn out the series of small paned windows framing the back wall. In one scene, there is rain running down the panes to great effect. But for me – the best detail was the bicycle in the corner which says “city apartment” like nothing else.
An odd thing happened at the Sunday matinee, which I attended. In a scene that was about three quarters of the way through the piece, we could hear the ticking of a clock. It wasn’t too loud, just a continuous tick tock in the background. I thought it was intentional (as did other audience members) – well the name of the play is “Time Stands Still”, and obviously time was running out for the character’s relationship, etc. But apparently it was not part of the play and was driving the actors mad, because in the dark during a scene change Mr. Kelly very courteously asked that whoever had the watch or mechanism that was making the sound to please silence it. Now, no watch that I know could make a sound that loud and I highly doubt that someone walked into the theatre with a big clock – so of course it was somebody’s cell phone! But I tell you –even somebody’s stupid cell phone didn’t ruin this theatrical experience for me.
If you haven’t seen a cogent, compelling play in a long time – here’s your chance. It will not disappoint. For tickets call 215-654-0200 or long onto Act II’s website at www.act2.org.
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