On the surface, Time Stands Still, the powerful and compelling, Tony nominated drama playing through Sept. 15th at Theaterworks in Hartford, focuses on Sarah, a photojournalist arriving home from overseas to recover from severe wounds caused by a roadside bomb. She is maimed, both physically and mentally. At home, her partner, James, gingerly begins to nurse her back to health. Yet her slow and steady recovery only serves as the backdrop to the show, which is primarily about the changing nature of relationships. We not only witness the evolving relationship of Sarah and James, a foreign correspondent fed up with the twosome’s often perilous globetrotting assignments, but also of their good friend, Richard, and his new, quite young, female companion, Mandy.
Time Stands Still slowly, but deftly examines the very nature of how lives can grow together and also pull suddenly apart, how one person’s dreams and desires don’t always match up with one’s partner’s trajectory. A subtext of the play concerns journalistic ethics and responsibilities. More questions are asked then answered, which provides the audience with much to contemplate. Playwright Donald Margulies, a Pulitzer Prize winner in 2000 for Dinner with Friends, has crafted a sometimes funny, often moving and thoughtful yet, ultimately, heartbreaking story. He has created four richly textured, highly opinionated characters that can lovingly embrace each other one moment and forcefully lash out the next.
The four cast members—Tim Altmeyer as the caring, yet conflicted, James; Erika Rolfsrud as the strong-willed and resolute, Sarah; Matthew Boston as Richard, good friend pursuing his own amorous agenda; and Liz Holtan as Mandy, sweet, naïve, but straight-shooting--is superb. They have fully embodied their roles making for a well-acted, taut production.
Rob Ruggiero directs with a purposeful and controlled feel, allowing the nuances and subtleties to take center stage. He allows the tension in the show to slowly simmer until the climatic, melancholy end. Ruggiero trusts Margulies’ work, recognizing the pauses. The breaks in the dialouge can speak just as loud as when the cast is verbally confronting each other.
Time Stands Still—drama at its best, now at Theaterworks in downtown Hartford through September 15th.