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EMAV Review: 'Time Stands Still' reveals the harm of war

Updated: Mar 18, 2019

By Galina Vasileva

★★★☆☆ - Satisfying

“Time Stands Still” by Donald Margulies explores the life of a couple (Sarah and James), who are journalists, working in the world's hot spots, documenting the horrors of the war. The story begins when James brings Sarah home after she is physically and emotionally harmed in Iraq.

A New York Classic Rock radio station invites the audience to sit back and enjoy the performance as it announces “Time Stands Still” in its bulletin. It is difficult to witness the struggle of the characters' transformations, more specifically James, that is fully manifested in the last scene.

Geo Nikols (James) is the strength in this production as he gives himself completely to the challenges that his character faces. He really struggles help Sarah's healing, to make her happy, and to save her from another wreck. It is his devotion that makes the story moving bringing realism and depth to this production.

Alison Scott (Sarah) presents her character in very distant, unfriendly and cold emotional state, which is strongly justified by the crutches, the medical patches on her face and most of all - the circumstances. The script allows for this tone of a cool and indifferent attitude, along with turning points that are meant to reveal the soft and sensitive side. I missed experiencing Sarah's authentic softer side and wish there was more variety in her mood than the angry and blue choices that dominated the delivery.

The costumes feel a bit less expensive than the economic class of the characters demanded by the plot, and unfortunately there are a few other problems with Jacob Moore's direction. Part of the movement is directed in a way to block audience`s vision, putting the sight-lines behind the actors who should have focus, and allowing only a view of the passive character's face. Another obstacle to the audience forming a connection with the play is the extensive use of black outs that interrupted the flow of the production.

Rachel Dawson (Mandy) is on point in humorous opposition to Sarah. She presents Mandy as blooming flower, full of happiness, sometimes silly and immature, staying true to herself as a young compassionate, hopeful girl, who offers a fine example of an easy and positive attitude. Her playful and warm approach brought warmth and humor to the icy atmosphere of Sarah's orbit.

Josh Sigal (Richard) made believable choices, shaping Richard as an accomplished and contented man. His obvious satisfaction and comfort serve as a significant challenge to James' choices, as he struggles to cope.

The journey through this story feels heavy and formulaic. There is a strong sense of hate and intolerance from Sarah toward James that reveals a bitter young woman in a constant state of dissatisfaction. Sometimes a ray of sunlight enters the story with the presence of Mandy and Richard, who serve their purpose, but they do not quite compensate for the missing levels of rich human nature. However, ultimately the accumulated tension of the play is released, and the audience is left relieved in a state of serenity.

Editor's note: The last line of the fourth paragraph has been changed to correct an editor's error. The original text implied "angry blue" as a reference to costume, when it was in fact a reference to tone of delivery. We apologize for this error to the article's author and the show's costume designer.

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