Stopping Time through Art
First produced by the prestigious Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles in 2009, Time Stands Still by Pulitzer Prize winner Donald Margulies, has moments when your heart seems to stop either from anguish, thought, or laughter. The play explores the complicated relationship between two war journalists, one a photographer, the other a writer, after they have returned from the war in Iraq to a Brooklyn studio. Photo journalist Sarah Goodwin, expertly played with an admixture of vulnerable heroism and saintly masochistic dedication by Alicia Dempster, has returned with serious war wounds. She reveals the Amazonian sacrifices a committed feminist makes to achieve art. Aaron Kaplan, as writer James Dodd, wants to explore his more feminine side to cure his rage and troubling memories of atrocities too numerous to catalogue.
The play probes deeply into what makes loving relationships work or not work—this is the heart of the play—yet it accomplishes this with humor—not the false cornball humor from the lame joke factory found in plays too numerous to mention, but through an edgy authentic wit drenched in pathos and irony. But the play is not a single photo shoot: it examines the inner workings of journalism, the machinations of publishing, censorship on the corporate level, and the difficulty of the public's digestion or appreciation of journalism and even the artistic reaches of journalism. The play offers many angles with unsparing frankness, economy, and common sense.
Will Jeffries, as Richard Ehrlich, retired from a long acting career in theater and films is now doing regional theater in New England. This is his first appearance at Theatreworks (lucky them!) in New Milford, CT. Jeffries offers the sparkling support that only an old pro can provide. As the magazine photo editor and good friend of both James and Sarah, Jeffries accomplishes the finesse of being both friend and employer with varied levels of exasperated delicacy. His improbably young wife, Mandy Bloom, coyly played by Erin Shaughnessy, delivers seemingly dumb comic lines with a tone that later resonates with unexpected wisdom. One of the pleasures of regional theater is to see a young actress like Erin Shaughnessy at the beginning of what promises to be a major career.
Direction by Sonnie Osborne maximizes the superb script. The single set by Scott Wyshynski and Richard Pettibone is attractive, flexible, and subtle. This well-crafted play with its wry ironies is a wonderful example of that marvelous creation of the Renaissance, the tragi-comedy. This play carries my highest recommendation for script, acting, and direction; it is a gem. If you take the plunge down south on Route 7, there are a number of good restaurants in New Milford. Tickets are only $23.00. Go to http://theatreworks.us/tickets.php or call the box office at 860-350-6863.