Wednesday, May 9, 2012

GableStage: Time Stands Still (4 reviews)

GableStage opened its production of Donald Margulies' Time Stands Still on May 5, 2012.
Sarah and James, a photojournalist and a foreign correspondent, have been together for nine years and share a passion for documenting the realities of war. When her battlefield injuries force them to return home to New York, they find their future together threatened by the prospect of a more conventional life. Penned by Pulitzer Prize Winning playwright Donald Margulies, Tony nominated Time Stands Still was hailed as one of the best new plays on Broadway.
Joseph Adler directed a cast that featured Gregg Weiner, Deborah Sherman, Steve Garland and Betsy Graver.

Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
The irony of the play Time Stands Still is that, in fact, time doesn’t stand still.  It’s the inability of people to change with it that constitutes one of several tragedies in Donald Margulies’ drama enjoying a solid production at GableStage.
In truth, this is not a thrilling or enthralling production; it’s one that keeps you thinking long after the lights come back up about whether we are jettisoning our responsibility as human beings to, first, feel something and, second, act on it. Adler, Margulies and Company have provided rich fodder for protracted post-show debates.
This production spotlights three of Adler’s strengths: eliciting multi-layered performances from actors, impeccable pacing and small bits of staging.
Sherman’s performance just adds more luster to two years of outstanding work.
This is Garland’s local debut, but he rewards the casting with a sensitive portrayal of a decent person who just cannot deal with the carnage and cruelty any longer. More than any of the others, Garland is so natural, so absent actor’s contrivances that he seems like your neighbor.
Weiner inhabits the skin of the 21st Century pragmatist who fights the good fight for journalism but knows when to compromise.

Arguably, Graver has the toughest role and she just knocks it out of the ballpark. A lesser actress would be unable to keep Mandy from becoming a stereotypical ditz. But Graver achieves exactly what Margulies and Adler wanted: a three-dimensional character who may not have the sophistication and life experiences of the other three, but who has a warmth and humanity that the others lack.
Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Margulies creates believable, contemporary characters whose life issues resonate with people who go to the theater. Time Stands Still is, however, more an intriguing character study than a fully realized, compelling play.
Impeccably produced, GableStage’s Time Stands Still unfolds on Lyle Baskin’s simple but handsome loft set, a place decorated with the books and photographs and world-travel souvenirs you would expect to find in James and Sarah’s home base.  Sound designer Matt Corey frames the action with mournful jazz, and lighting designer Jeff Quinn suggests both Mandy’s brightness and the moodier crossroads faced by Sarah and James. Ellis Tillman’s costume choices convey class, age and taste, from the dressed-down journalists to Richard’s expensive menswear to Mandy’s young, sexy style.

Adler gets strong, intricately detailed performances from all four actors. Sherman is a fierce, always believable Sarah, even when she and Garland are dealing with brief and unnecessary nudity that isn’t in Margulies’ script. Garland is, arguably, a bit too jolly and for a guy who’s dealing with guilt while working his way through the aftermath of a breakdown, but he and Sherman suggest a long familiarity. Weiner’s Richard is smart, manipulative and self-justifying, though he subtly melts in the presence of the life force that is Graver’s radiant Mandy.
Roger Martin hands in a 'perfect' review for miamiartzine:
Deborah Sherman is perfect as the acerbic, adrenalin junky Sarah.
Steve Garland is perfect as the man who wants to flee the war zones and raise a family. With Sarah.
Gregg Weiner is perfect as the old friend who tries to, but cannot, chase the demons away from Sarah and James.
Betsy Graver is perfect as the hot, hot babe who makes at least one person happy.
Joe Adler is perfect as the director who brings this dark piece to the light.
And that's five 'perfects' handed out so far, so let's keep it going with ten-out-of-tens handed also to set designer Lyle Baskin for the loft with the huge arched window through which Jeff Quinn's lights play over the Brooklyn industrial areas. Matt Corey's sound and Ellis Tillman's costumes also get the tens.
Chris Joseph did that thing he does for The Miami New Times:
It's a crisp production sustained by some fine performances and a script that moves along with the right measure of humor and drama.
As with every GableStage production, Time Stands Still is anchored by fine work. Adler draws crisp performances from his ensemble, particularly from Sherman, who deftly gives Sarah's pain and hardened outer shell some humanity. It would be easy to dislike this war junkie, even with her injuries. But Sherman makes her wholly human, someone we all know. Garland is genuinely affable and compassionate as the loyal-to-a-fault James, all while keeping an inner passion bottled up for the sake of his and Sarah's delicate relationship. Graver does a fantastic job of keeping Mandy's simple worldview grounded without turning the character into a cliché. The always-excellent Weiner as Richard is warm and funny; he really shows his versatility by playing a more compliant role than he usually plays.
Time Stands Still plays at GableStage through June 3, 2012.

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