By Roz Friedman

Perfect! Pluperfect!  Donald Margulies’ new play, Time Stands Still, is the most outstanding play of the season. (Margulies is a long-time Ct. resident) Ironically, it partners well with “The Hurt Locker,” which just won the Oscar for Best Film. Both look at war from a personal and world perspective, and ask some heavy questions.  What is the role of the photographer in time of war? Does taking a picture of horror help in any way to defer war? Is motherhood more important than an obsessive career? What does marriage really mean? All these issues the playwright explores with humor and insight.

Directed with a fine-tuned nuance by Daniel Sullivan, the four member cast (costumed by Rita Ryack) is sublime, acting together in a special kind of intuitive zone. The luminous Laura Linney plays Sarah, a photographer who has been seriously wounded in Iraq, and has the scars to prove it. Despite the fact that her face is riddled with deep scratches and her leg is encased in a heavy brace, she wants to return as soon as possible to the warzone. When the first scene opens, she is being helped into her rustic loft in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (designed by John Lee Beatty and lit by Peter Kaczarowski) by James, who turns out is not her husband, but her longtime live-in very significant other. He is portrayed Brian D’Arcy James, who fortunately has been freed from the makeup and costume of Shrek, and can be seen and heard for the excellent and handsome actor he is. James, a writer, who suffers from shell-shock, wants to marry Sarah, have kids, and live a comfortable life. These two seem to be on the same page, until she confesses to having a loving liaison with her interpreter, Tariq, who was blown up next to her; he admits to knowing this, but is willing to “forgive” her 

Eric Bogosian, a seasoned veteran of stage and TV, is their grizzled longtime friend and editor, Richard, who visits with his new girlfriend in tow. Pregnant Mandy, half his age, seems like a twit, but in that role Alicia Silverstone has all the good lines here. Wrinkling her brow, she questions Sarah’s motives. When we have seen the poverty and gore does anything make a difference? If we don’t stop and save the children or the baby elephant from destruction, is that sinful?   Mandy and Eric inspire Sarah and James to marry. For there it is all down hill.  Sarah can’t fit into the domestic mode, and they separate. She: back to Iraq; he: for a new life with a new love and her child.

Time Stands Still with original music composed by Peter Golub, written by Donald Margulies will play only through   March 21.


(This review originally aired on WNFR Fine Arts radio.)

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