Time Stands Still

By Donald Murphy

Time Stand Still at Steppenwolf theatre
Time Stand Still

Directed by Austin Pendleton

At the Steppenwolf Upstairs Theatre, Chicago

Life style of risk taking consumes photojournalist

Sally Murphy plays Sarah Goodwin – an adrenaline junky wartime photojournalist who returns to her Brooklyn loft to recover from a near-death bomb blast in Afghanistan.  Furiously independent, she is irritated that her lover and fellow war journalist dotes over her. Her wounds and his emotional breakdown from one too many war horrors forced James (Randall Newsome) to desire to stay in the USA and write puff-pieces.

But Sarah still yearns to go back to war reporting believing that if she documents war’s horrors they’ll be ended. She is taken off guard by James’ desire to settle down and marry. It seems that their friend and editor Richard (Francis Guinan) has found a much younger girl to love. They marry and Mandy (Ktistina Valada-Viare) becomes pregnant.

Time Stand Still

Mandy and Richard indirectly influence James but Sarah, despite marrying James after nine years, still is determined to go back to war zones. Forced to decide between her love for James and a normal life and her thrill-seeking war photographing that makes “time stand still,” Sarah’s choice to resume living in chaos is plausible and understandable.

I had some problems with playwright Donald Marguiles’ script and Sally Murphy’s bland and too laid-back presentation of Sarah. Surly, an adrenaline junky like Sarah would be pacing about as she itched to get back to the action. Murphy plays Sarah too passive.  I’d like to know more about why Sarah cheated on James and why he accepted her story without rage since his soul mate betrayed him. James took the news quite civilly.  I would also like to know more about James’ meltdown that forced him to leave Sarah in a war zone. This story  plays out as incomplete.  I’d like to understand James and Sarah. More back story is needed for me to empathize with them. Randell Newsome is wonderful as the troubled writer. Kristin Valada-Viars was effective as the light-weight young woman.  This show is mildly interesting. Walt Spangler’s set was impressive.

Somewhat Recommended

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: January 31, 2012

For more info checkout the Time Stands Still page at theatreinchicago.com

At Steppenwolf Theatre, 1650 N. halsted Ave., Chicago, IL call 312-335-1650, www.steppenwolf.org, tickets $20 -$78, Tuesdays thru Sundays at 7:30 pm, Wednesday matinees at 2 pm, Saturday & Sunday matinees at 3pm, running time is 2 hours, 10 minutes with intermission, through May 13, 2012