BWW Reviews: Margulies' Intense TIME STANDS STILL Powerfully Provokes

Time Stands Still/written by Donald Margulies/directed Vicky Jenson/Secret Rose Theatre/thru February 8, 2015

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Donald Margulies' thought-provoking Time Stands Still receives a strong mounting at the Secret Rose.

Vicky Jenson smoothly directs her uniformly skilled four-member cast in their disputes, arguments, confrontation, and some infrequent bonding.

Once you get pass the puzzling, non-BWW Reviews: Margulies' Intense TIME STANDS STILL Powerfully Provokesrevealing opening scene (Why is the woman on crutches? What's the relationship between her and the guy fawning all over her?), bits of information on the main characters Sarah and James finally get sifted out. Sarah, a photojournalist, has just returned from weeks recuperating in a hospital after surviving a bombing that killed her assistant (sitting right next to her). James, out of guilt or out of the eight-year unmarried love/devotion/duty he has for her, waits on her hand and foot afraid the slightest movement will cause her any further pain. Not until guests arrive- Sarah's boss photo editor Richard and his new, very young girlfriend Mandy- does the action and the back stories gush welcomely forward.

Nik Isbelle steals all her scenes as Mandy, the nubile, wide-eyed, impressionable, innocent in love with Richard (who she casually mentions, doesn't matter to her that he's only three years younger than her father). Her refreshing innocence and candor breaks the ultra serious tensions in the room created by Sarah and James, and now Richard. Isbelle's Mandy has a way of addressing all the elephants in the room. Looking through the photos Sarah took just before being roadside bombed, Mandy burst out with the simple question as to why Sarah didn't stop shooting and help the dying baby she photographed. Sarah coldly responds that she was there to record history, not change it. Besides, the baby was almost dead, anyway. Ironic that Mandy illustrates an example of this offending moral dilemma using elephants as her central characters.

BWW Reviews: Margulies' Intense TIME STANDS STILL Powerfully ProvokesTroy Ruptash nails his role of Richard- Sarah's ex-lover, current boss, and now friend to both Sarah and James. Ruptash's Richard's the solid ground that attempts to keep both Sarah and James grounded.

Whereas the character of Sarah (and James to some extent) seem written as a cipher, Richard and Mandy's characters get appealingly spelled out in Margulies' dialogues.

Aidan Bristow charms and dominates as James, Sarah's lover still sticking around after eight years.

BWW Reviews: Margulies' Intense TIME STANDS STILL Powerfully ProvokesKudos to Presciliana Esparolini for her total commitment in tackling Sarah, Margulies' villainess role with life's deck of cards stacked against her. Sarah has paid a high price for her success in her noble vocation as photojournalist. She's estranged from her wealthy parents; thinks television and movies waste time as avoiding reality; finds no joy in the everyday niceties of life- not even in her lover of eight years. Margulies has written Sarah as so morally high ground and so uncompromisingly tunnel-visioned, hard to sympathize with her circumstances (that she seems to bring upon herself). Sarah looks down on such "frivolous" occupations as event planner (Mandy), celebrity photo editor (Richard), even motherhood (Mandy again). She definitely had no patience for James 'abandoning' her in the war zone for the mere excuse that he had a nervous breakdown of his own to deal with. Esparolini's Sarah's so internalized, never could get a real reading on her feelings, aside from anger, for her live-in lover. Hard to imagine what BWW Reviews: Margulies' Intense TIME STANDS STILL Powerfully ProvokesJames sees in her and why he stays with her after all their years together. No hints of any chemistry existing between her and James. Some simple gesture or small look (not written or directed) could have indicated their eight-year history together in volumes. As far as character growths, Esparolini's Sarah seems to be the only one of the four not to have any. So as much as you want to empathize with Sarah, one doesn't know how to feel about her eventual situation.

This production succeeds in vividly bringing up the moral question: When do you do your job? And when do you break through the fourth wall to help a fellow human being in need? Bravo to all those courageous journalist who wade in the thick midst of warring situations. News outlets provide what the public wants to see, read and know. So, should we, as the public, ask ourselves- Would we rather see a photo of a bloody dying baby? Or read about the photojournalist dropping their camera and saving the baby's life?

BTW; lovely, detailed, warm Brooklyn loft set by Tim Pacaldo and mood-setting, inter-scene music by Craig Richey.

www.TimeStandsStill.LA

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From This Author Gil Kaan

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