Friday, January 29, 2010

Time Stands Still (The SOB Review)

Time Stands Still (The SOB Review) - Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, New York City, New York

***1/2 (out of ****)

All is fair in love and war, so the saying goes. And when the two converge, it’s a common assumption that the bonds forged are for life. They may be among the most impenetrable.

In Donald Margulies' superb and gut-wrenching new play Time Stands Still, the playwright thoughtfully examines the ravages of conflict and the impact of finding love among the ruins.

Sarah (Laura Linney in a remarkably shattering performance) is an injured photojournalist returning home from the war in Iraq to a life and boyfriend James (an excellent Brian d'Arcy James) that have become utterly disconnected. She even has difficulty reconnecting with her editor Richard (a fantastic Eric Begosian), especially now that he's seeing Mandy (Alicia Silverstone, a stunning revelation here), a blonde beauty half his age, and at first glance with an IQ to match.

But it's Mandy who challenges Sarah's ethics for not stepping in and helping those dying subjects of her war photography, placing our photojournalist on the defensive. Sarah soon finds the need to defend herself on yet another front, which threatens to completely undermine her relationship with James.

Margulies' first act is beyond extraordinary. It's particularly brilliant for its seamless blend of how life goes on in the United States in spite of our wars abroad along with the realities and cost of those military endeavors. The ultimate impact on Sarah and James is both harrowing and heartbreaking.

If the second act isn't quite the equal of the first, it's because Margulies initiates it by trying to infuse self-deprecating humor at his very own work, essentially telling the audience with a big wink and inappropriate smile that we shouldn't take plays like this too seriously. While it weakens the overall impact of the play, Time Stands Still thankfully marches on with director Daniel Sullivan ensuring it regains its powerful foothold yet again.

With exceptional cast, timely themes and thoughtful balance of love in time of war, Time Stands Still ranks as one of Broadway's best new plays this season.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

In keeping with the new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations that unfairly discriminate against bloggers, who are now required by law to disclose when they have received anything of value they might write about, please note that I have received nothing of value in exchange for this post.

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