Theatre Review: “Time Stands Still” @ Manhattan Theatre Club, Freidman Theatre, 1/17/10

Manhattan Theatre Club

Time Stands Still is a show that gets under your skin. Hours, even days later, you are thinking, “What would have I done differently if I was in their situation?” or “Why did they do that?”. The scariest part about it, is that we’ve all been in their shoes at some point in our lives. We may have not experienced exactly the same thing, but the emotions of heartache, betrayal, love, birth, friendship and sickness are felt – almost to the core – throughout the production.

Each of the four characters – Richard Ehrlich (Eric Bogosian), James Dodd (Brian D’Arcy James), Sarah Goodwin (Laura Linney) and Mandy Bloom (Alicia Silverstone) – have a very distinct personality, demeanor and relationship with each other. There’s a part of you, in each of the characters, whether they be positive, a realist, defeated, and/or sweetly innocent. By the end of the production, I felt deeply connected to each one of the characters.

And, it would only be appropriate to address each of the characters and why I felt connected to them:

  • Richard Ehrlich – (Photo Editor) “The glass is always half-full” is the kind-of-guy Ehrlich emanates. He’s always that friend who’s looking out for you and has your best interests in mind. He’ll have your back when you need it and is always a friend — especially when you don’t deserve it. He justs wants to be happy and thinks he’s found happiness with his new girlfriend, Mandy Bloom – the forever optimist. Unexpectedly, she got pregnant and Ehrlich is genuinely excited about his new life that’s going to begin in his mid-40’s. You wanted to hate him for having found his happiness but I became addicted to Ehrlich’s subtle reactions that kept his unlikely friendship with Dodd compelling to watch. I want to be that friend – fierce and loyal through the good and bad.
  • James Dodd – (Writer) Oh, the tainted realist… Somehow, I related to Dodd the most. Writing passionately about the horror that you’ve seen in war-torn countries has got be torture. I can’t even compare my reality to what Dodd has seen/been through and yet I’ve felt similarly. No wonder why he chose to escape through watching horror movies late at night. If the horror was fake in the movies, then quite possibly, what he saw in the real war could be fake as well. It was Dodd’s coping mechanism and yet his wife, Sarah Goodwin, continually threw this fact in his face. I envied him for finding the logical solution in his escapism. Yet, in all of the “reality” Dodd just wanted to escape further and create a new life, for his new bride and possibly have a family in his future.
  • Sarah Goodwin – (Photojournalist) Defeated. Guilty. Courageous. Proud. Stubborn. Goodwin felt defeated by her guilt of hiding behind her camera as she took pictures of car-bombs, famine, suffering and war. She knew someone had to do the job and she courageously went into the war zones to capture it, hopefully yielding a better world. Her pride affected her relationships and stubborn attitude kept Dodd, her husband, at a far distance, eventually pushing him away. Her pride became my pride and I started to have insight into her emotions. Somehow, I sympathized with her.
  • Mandy Bloom – (Event Planner) Bloom screams positivity with her happy, unassuming outlook on life. Her last argument defending her choice to be a stay-home mother voided out all of the “silly” things she said throughout the show. Her defense was spot-on. All she ever wanted and hoped for, was for everyone to be happy. If she could help you become a little bit happier, she genuinely would. I wanted to capture Bloom’s outlook on life and bottle it up so whenever I need a dose of positivity, I could use some of hers.

The story was moving, beautiful and left me a bit breathless. Maybe, it was because, I connected so much to each one of the characters. Brian D’Arcy James was perfect as the realist Dodd. It’s quite a change from his comedic turn in the musical, Shrek and yet, it was definitely more impressive. And Laura Linney (Goodwin) was deeply strong-willed and soft all at the same time, crafting the two personalities very distinctly. Linney is the cornerstone of the production and each one of the other characters move in tandem with her gravity and force. Silverstone’s (Bloom) unassuming wit was perfectly charming and yet so genuine. It’s no wonder why Silverstone is reprising her role from the Geffen Playhouse production (the out-of-town tryout).

One of my favorite parts of the production was how they used music, written by Peter Golub, to create a sense of mood in between the time shifts and scenes. It was the ultimate soundtrack to accompany this piece. The beautifully haunting lighting, designed by Peter Kaczorowski, also helped to create the various moods throughout.

Overall, Time Stands Still was touching, a bit depressing and yet still hopeful all at the same time. I didn’t walk out feeling like I had seen brilliance, rather I felt like I was reminded of what really matters in my own life. And, maybe in turn, that’s the most brilliant part of the production.

Times Stands Still at The Samuel J. Friedman Theatre (Manhattan Theatre Club)

Performances from 05 Jan 2010
Opening 28 Jan 2010
Closing 14 Mar 2010

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