Last night, I had the privilege of seeing Time Stands Still, Donald Margulies new play, that had an incredible cast: Laura Linney, Brian D’arcy James, Christina Ricci and Eric Bogosian. On top of all that, it was affordable: so I was comfy in my chair before the curtain rose.
I found out after the performance that Laura Linney had just come back from the death of her father, so who knows how this affected her performance. I couldn’t tell. Either way, the play is about a war photographer, Sarah, wounded and dmaged, making her way home from injury with her long term boyfriend. The play chronicles a year in their lives, following the fissures in their relationship and showing the many layers they have.
As a mirror, Bogosian and Ricci play their friends, who are having the seeming ‘sugar daddy’ relationship. The comparison, and questions about which relationship is healthier are both funny and poignant, and the differences in the problems are great.
Really, Time Stands Still is just a really clever relationship drama. Theres the backdrop of a war wound, which is a good story basis, but the strength in the play is well written charaters, with a flawed relationship thats enthralling. The current wars in the middle east are used as a prop to allow a wedge to come into the relationship. It’s the focus, but don’t be fooled by it if you see the play. Actually, theres a hat tip in the play, where the characters see a play about suffering in Iraq, and comment about how shallow it can seem, and can just make the audience feel good about themselves to have gone to watch. Margulies clearly knew this was going to come up in a review of his show.
Linney and James play their parts wonderfully, without hamming things up, and clearly showing the emotions that you’d expect a couple living together for years to have. The interaction between Bogosian and Ricci is, as comparison, much less interactive, but it’s supposed to be. Ricci plays her character well, though, showing a little humanity that an redeem her silly little girl aspect.
Is it worth seeing? Sure. Is it going to stand the test of time? Probably not, unless the next production in 10 years will change the settings and place names. The story is a timeless one though: what keeps people together? What happens to love? I doubt there will be a better production of this show anytime soon, so if you want to see a period drama about 2010, go and see one of the last few runs of this show, which is on until the end of January.