AISLE SAY San Francisco


by Donald Margulies
Directed by Leslie Martinson
Presented by TheatreWorks
Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts
500 Castro St., Mountain View, CA / (650) 463-1960

Reviewed by Judy Richter

Critically injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq, a photojournalist returns home to her Brooklyn loft to recuperate. She's accompanied by her longtime live-in lover, a foreign correspondent who has witnessed the horrors of combat, too. As they try to recover, they look closely at their relationship and consider the future. Thus Donald Margulies' "Time Stands Still" unfolds in TheatreWorks' riveting regional premiere.

Her left arm in a sling, her left leg braced, her right arm using a crutch and her body scarred, Rebecca Dines plays the photojournalist, Sarah Goodwin. Mark Anderson Phillips portrays her lover, James Dodd. In her richly nuanced performance, Dines conveys Sarah's physical and emotional pain, while Phillips slowly reveals the strains of James's post-traumatic stress disorder.

They're occasionally visited by another couple, Richard Ehrlich (Rolf Saxon) and Mandy Bloom (Sarah Moser). A longtime friend of Sarah and James, Richard also is a magazine photo editor who has professional ties to them. Mandy is his new girlfriend, much younger and -- initially -- quite naive, even ditzy. Over the several months covered by the play, however, Moser shows that Mandy is a stronger, more complex woman than meets the eye. Saxon's Richard is both tactful and caring with his two friends and loving with Mandy.

Eventually Sarah and James reach a crossroads in their relationship, when they must decide what to do next. Both gain insight into what they their careers. "I live off the suffering of strangers," Sarah laments. Nevertheless, she seems to thrive on the adventure and to believe idealistically that the images she captures can somehow make a difference.

Under the expert guidance of director Leslie Martinson, all four actors contribute to the brilliance of this fascinating play and production. Although Erik Flatmo's high-ceilinged set swallows a few lines, it does capture the ambience of an urban loft. The costumes are by Anna R. Oliver with lighting by Michael Palumbo and sound by Gregory Robinson. The makeup artist isn't credited but deserve kudos for Dines's realistic-looking wounds.

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