Written by Patrick Chavis
The Bold Theatre’s production of Donald Margulies’ Time Stands Still, playing May 13 – 29, explores human relationships through the lens of two very different couples. The play explores their personalities and circumstances and asks what keeps a couple together.
Time Stands Still follows the story of Sarah, a photojournalist, played by Jess Be, and war correspondent James played by Sasan Ahmed. As we watch the play, we learn they have been a couple for years and cover wars and other dangerous events for a living. The play begins with Sarah returning from Iraq with a broken leg and a shocking secret. While Sarah heals from her injury, she and James face tough questions about who they are and their relationship.
From a script point of view, we hear more about the loving relationship between Sarah and James in the back story than in the present day. I felt less of a connection to these characters because of this. Fortunately, Donald Margulies has a way with words and utilizes his skill in many scenes to circumvent situations that would be awkward and stale in lesser hands.
A significant, dramatic plot point between Sarah and James is brought up multiple times, but the actors’ attitudes seem way too lax for the damage it causes. While it’s one of the main issues in the play, it could have been left out entirely, and the characters would still have to deal with the more significant dramatic issue.
This is a dialogue-dependent piece, so the conversations need to be good. They are, but the non-verbal acting was not quite there.
The two supporting characters in the storyline are Mandy, a simple young girl played by Gracie Be, and Richard, her older boyfriend, played by John J. Pistone. They’re foils to Sarah and James. Sarah and James have a lot in common, but Mandy and Richard have very little, primarily because of the age difference.
Pistone’s performance as Richard was very good. I believed he was an old friend of Sarah, and he did this by changing how he talked in different situations during a few scenes. He showed the audience his character’s personality.
The Bold Theatre in La Palma is intimate, with three-row raised seating and comfortable wooden chairs. The set is about 5 feet in front of you and stretches from left to right, utilizing the entire room. Whether in the back or the front, you are close enough to hear and see all the action. The play is set in a living room in Brooklyn, but the living room designed for this production could be anywhere.
The use of city sounds in the background would have set the scene more.
Middle Eastern music played in the background in between scenes. There’s a bar with hard liquor to the far right of the stage. A couch is in the middle, and there’s a trundle bed left of stage.
There are some severe scars on the Sarah character’s face. I had to reflect on my theatre booklet because it looked so realistic. The makeup work on the wounds is excellent. There is no listing of a make artist on this production, so whoever did the makeup did a fantastic job.
Story7.5Acting7Set & Design7Costumes8Entertainment7.5
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