Tuesday August 22nd 2017

“Time Stands Still”

Somewhat recommended** It is not very often that I am not mesmerized by a production at Steppenwolf Theatre Company ( upstairs , downstairs or at the Garage), but their latest offering, in the Upstairs Theater, “Time Stands Still” by Donald Marguilies, left me a little flat. The story is about a photojournalist, who it turns out lives her life for the excitement of the danger in the hotspots where war and danger lurk around each corner. Sarah ( Sally Murphy, who I regard as a top actress, but find that she forgets one of the first things an actor learns- to play to the back row) has survived a bomb blast in Iraq and has been sent home to recuperate. Her long time boyfriend,James ( deftly handled by Randall Newsome) is there to take care of her and tend to her needs. He is in hopes that she will settle down and stay home, get married and raise a family. She doesn’t see this as her life as danger and the drama of war is what she needs. Her editor, who is also their friend,, Richard ( a solid performance by Francis Guinan) has settled down with  a much younger woman, Mandy ( Kristina Valada-Viars) and in seeing their happiness, James pushes even more for this type of life.

Directed by Austin Pendleton on a slick set by Walt Spangler filled with great “stuff”, I found myself wanting to get into this story, but with the problem in hearing the two lovers in confrontation, I know that focus was hard to keep. I struggled to hear every word and also see the action. Their loft apartment had lamps, but they left the lights off for a great part of the first act, so not only could I not hear them, it was difficult to see them.

There is a lot of contrast in the two couples- Sarah is strong and Mandy, not so! Mandy has a job, but will gladly trade it for Richard and a family! Richard needs to have a better balanced life and as he is getting older, accepts that Mandy is the right girl for him ( please note the use of girl, as she is much younger)! James, also a writer, wants to settle down and be a family, but loves only Sarah and doesn’t want to settle for any other woman. But sarah’s true problem is her fear of living a mundane existence and never facing the dangers that going into the “action” of wars brings to her. There are many people who find danger to be a manna from heaven and a reason for them to exist. Without it, they feel empty- that is Sarah’s dilemma!

“Time Stands Still” is a challenge for each audience member about their own lives and choices they make. hether it be a romance, a job, a separation, a death we all have to deal with things on a regular basis. Some of the choices we make will work for us and other might make our situation worse. In this two act play, we are asked to view these four characters and watch them change during this one year process ( the time period of the play) and see how the relationships affect the life of Sarah and James as well  as their friends. As usual, talk backs will take place after each performance. These are geared to help us understand what we saw and what the intent of the playwright and director were. They are free and for many audience members help to sort out the story and the search that each of the characters, are going through.

“Time Stands Still” will continue at Steppenwolf located at 1650 N. Halsted through May 13th with performances as follows:

Tuesdays thru Sundays at 7:30 p.m.,Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 2 p.m.( Sunday evening performances will stop on April 8th)

Tickets range from $20-$78 and are available at the box office, by phone at 312-335-1650 or online at www.steppenwolf.org     


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