Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"Time Stands Still' evocative with conflicts of war and love

“Time Stands Still' refers to photographs...mind-etching photographs exhibiting the carnage and degradation of war in a single frame. Admittedly Aisle Say is a 'let's get to the next laugh' musical theatre junkie, but this incisively writing and superbly acted production is one of the most thought provoking experiences in recent memory. Images of war...I sat there thinking about that little naked Vietnamese girl running in terror toward the photographer, the napalm exploding behind her; the Vietman general blowing the prisoner's brains out on the streets of Saigon; Ghaddafi lying bloodied and brutalized in a cold storage freezer. One might infer then, this show is a downer. By no means! Writer David Marguilies has infused and balanced the drama with Mandy, who initially comes across as a ditz, “...the lawyer is doing that pro bono, yunno. That means free!”, but at final curtain we actually see her as as the one cool clear voice of reason. Drama means conflict. There are a few going on. Sarah (Susan McKey) is a war photographer who is rehabbing back in the Brooklyn, having been injured and scarred by a roadside bomb in Iraq. Her live-in for 8 years, Jamie (Kevin Kelly) a free lance writer, was with her in the war zone but returned earlier due to PTSD. Their stateside magazine editor, middle aged and (anchored with love handles) Richard (Bruce Graham) meets them there along with his new and very May-December trophy and soon-to-be wife Mandy (Megan McDermott). Jamie has had enough of the 8 year non-commitment. He wants to be married and perhaps have a child in Brooklyn – NOT in a war zone. But even as he pours her a first drink after their long time apart, Sarah has a telling moment. Her brain freezes for a moment. She blurts out “Where are my cameras!” (Similar to one's own deadly fear when a cellphone is misplaced). Later, we understand those pieces of equipment are her raison d'etre. In his pleas to Sarah not to return, Jamie argues what all those who have considered the egregious, horrible and life altering mistakes of Iraq and Afghanistan.”Do you really honestly feel you are going to change things in that country” he asks, full knowing they will go on with or without her presence. Contemporary references? My mind flashed to the very day we quitted Iraq. A mere six hours later the Shiite President Al Maliki proposed an arrest warrant for his Sunni Vice President. Stay tuned for the sectarian civil war to follow. Heading east, Karzai is laughing at his neutered American handlers, shoving billions down the tribal rabbit holes. Sarah, an award-winning photo-journalist – even suffering from wounds – finally admits she must return. Her life is not fulfilled unless she is in danger and recording it all for humanity. Even the supposedly superficial Mandy confronts her on the issue of involvement. “How can you stand by and do nothing when something horrific is happening? Why can't you just drop your damn camera and go to that person's aid rather than taking a stupid picture and doing nothing?” Sarah replies that her camera and the cameras of others are there to record life, not change it. This is a fascinating interchange. Both actresses are so very naturalistic in their interpretations that we feel in our gut their respective arguments. This production is so well balanced, so well tempered. Part of the brilliance is the surgical employments of laughter to break the tension. Thru February 5 302.494.1100

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