Love and War with In Tandem's 'Time Stands Still'
Playwright Donald Margulies examines what’s fair in love and war in Time Stands Still, a powerful production by In Tandem Theatre in the company’s Tenth Street Theatre. The story focuses on Sarah, an award-winning American photojournalist who returns home from Iraq after being injured by an IED blast. Over time, the audience sees Sarah heal physically as she moves from a leg cast, crutches and shrapnel marks on her face to almost full recovery by the play’s end.
Being the gutsy, independent woman she is, Sarah (Kay Allmand) doesn’t make a very good patient. She seems almost amazed to be home for what is turning out to be an extended recovery. Her journalist boyfriend, James (David Sapiro), feels enormous guilt at leaving Sarah in Iraq shortly before her injury. They have been seeing each other for eight years. James headed back to the U.S. for psychological treatment after witnessing a particularly horrifying incident.
Sarah and James are committed to their reasons for taking such dangerous assignments halfway across the world. However, they seem very short-sighted about what they want in life. Even the first scene between them is somewhat of a head-scratcher. James is sensitive to Sarah’s every need, yet the two still seem worlds apart. They often lash out at each other. Sarah can’t figure out why James fails to understand the costs of war, which can damage relationships as well as bodies. James can’t believe that Sarah would actually consider returning to a war zone after nearly getting killed.
Margulies’ play, which was nominated for a 2010 Tony Award, is full of smart, pointed dialogue. The play is a powerful examination of what war does to those who live in it as well as those who cover it for the media. Director Chris Flieller creates fully fleshed-out characters in Sarah and James, but the audience may find it difficult to get a handle on them. One reason may be that the playwright casts them in a less-than-sympathetic light.
In this four-hander, there’s also a subplot involving a May-September love match. Middle-aged Richard (Richard Ganoung), a photo editor for a prestigious magazine that publishes Sarah and James’ work, shows up at their apartment with his new, much younger girlfriend, Mandy (Jordan Watson). Richard anticipates the sniggering remarks from Sarah and James about the age gap, but, unlike Sarah and James, Richard says he just wants to be happy for a change. The unlikely couple are committed to making things work, and they do. It helps that the chemistry between Ganoung and Watson seems palpable, however improbable.
Through March 19 at Tenth Street Theatre. For tickets, call 414-271-1371 or visit intandemtheatre.org