Runs through 3.21.10
Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 West 47th St.
Editor's note: This is a review of the original Broadway production, which ran in the Spring of 2010. Time Stands Still reopens in Fall 2010 at the Cort Theatre, with three of the four original cast members. Christina Ricci takes on the role of Mandy, previously played by Alicia Silverstone.
BOTTOM LINE: While perhaps not mind-blowingly amazing, Time Stands Still is an excellent play that should have wide appeal for Broadway audiences.
Manhattan Theatre Club has decided that 2010 is the year for Donald Margulies. This is the first of two Margulies plays going up at their Broadway theatre this spring (his 1996 play Collected Stories will be revived in April). Time Stands Still is an excellent new play and possibly one of the best of the season (but it is still early). While I personally preferred Lincoln Center's In the Next Room, or, the Vibrator Play, which closed January 10th after a less than three month run, I can understand how In The Next Room may not have been for everyone. In contrast, Time Stands Still seems to have a broader appeal, yet is no less intelligent or thought-provoking as a result.
Laura Linney plays Sarah Goodwin, a photo-journalist whose severe injuries from a roadside bombing have forced her to return to New York to recuperate. Brian D'Arcy James plays her partner James Dodd (also a journalist); while intentionally not married, these two have built lives together that exist around covering global conflict. While they've been gone, their friend Richard (Eric Bogosian) has started seriously dating Mandy (Alicia Silverstone), a much younger woman. Sarah's injury forces her and James to stop and evaluate their lives - are they living the kind of lives they want?
Margulies deftly gets his audience to begin the play seeing things from Sarah's point of view. For example, at first glance Mandy appears to be superficial - she is an event-planner, as compared to the "serious" and "important" careers of the others. Sarah judges Mandy immediately, and so do we. Yet as the play continues, and Sarah's easy assuredness about her own life begins to break down, we the audience begin to understand why these four characters have the lives they do, and we begin to see value in each character's decisions.
This is not a play full of huge dramatic monologues, and there are no big "reveals" in terms of plot. But because of Daniel Sullivan's superb direction, the everyday conversation that makes up the bulk of Time Stands Still does not drag at all. And all four actors are perfect in their roles. In fact, it is difficult to pick a favorite. While Laura Linney has the stand-out role, I loved Brian D'Arcy James's heart-breaking performance as a man who begins to realize he may need to make some huge life changes. I'm not a big fan of Eric Bogosian's solo shows, but he is excellent here. And one might not expect Alicia Silverstone to be that good (for some reason, we have low expectations of young movie stars). Yet Mandy's simple sweetness and honesty are what help Sarah and James begin to question the snap judgments they formed when they first met her; Silverstone's beautiful performance gets the audience to do the same.
As with Margulies's Pulitzer Prize-winning Dinner With Friends, there are larger themes underlying Time Stands Still. Is what we do with our lives important? Do we make a difference in the world? And how do we balance our own life goals with those around us? These are common questions, and I can't say that Time Stands Still made me think about anything new. Nor did it make me see the world in a radically different way. Yet it made me think, and it did so without the verbose, speechifying language common in many plays that attempt to do this. Time Stands Still is an intelligent play with wide appeal, and Manhattan Theatre Club's production is first-rate. In other words, it's exactly what one should expect from a new play on Broadway.
(Time Stands Still plays at Manhattan Theatre Club's Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, 261 West 47th Street, through March 21, 2010. Performances are Tuesday at 7pm, Wednesday at 2pm and 8pm, Thursday at 8pm, Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm and 8pm and Sunday at 2pm. Tickets are $57 to $111 and can be purchased at telecharge.com or by calling 212.239.6200. $27 student rush tickets are available on the day of the performance when the box office opens. For more information visit ManhattanTheatreClub.com.)