Time Stands Still -- Theater Review

"Time Stands Still"
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Making a quick return to Broadway after an acclaimed brief run earlier this year, "Time Stands Still" again proves to be a satisfying drama from Pulitzer winner Donald Margulies ("Dinner With Friends").

Featuring most of its original cast -- Laura Linney, Brian d'Arcy James and Eric Bogosian -- and the addition of Christina Ricci in her Broadway debut, the production should fare even better at the box office thanks to Linney's high-profile gig on Showtime's "The Big C."

On one level, this work -- about a female photojournalist and her writer boyfriend coping with the physical and emotional aftereffects of her near-death experience while covering the Iraq War -- deals with such themes as the responsibilities of journalists to their subjects and the thrill-seeking addiction that drives them. But the playwright cannily uses this as a framework to explore the shifting trajectories of relationships, with longtime but unmarried couple Sarah (Linney) and James (d'Arcy James) discovering that the incident has dramatically shifted their priorities and emotional needs.

James wants to return to a more peaceful life, content with writing celebrity profiles and think pieces examining the social ramifications of cheesy horror movies, and Sarah, despite having been gravely wounded, is all too eager to return to the front lines.

Adding complexity to the conflict is the frequent presence of longtime friend/editor Richard (Bogosian), newly and very giddily involved in a relationship with much younger event planner Mandy (Ricci).

Sarah, aghast at what she perceives as his midlife crisis, acidly observes, "There's young, and there's embryonic."

But the girlish, seemingly naive Mandy soon proves wiser than her years. And Sarah and James' relationship becomes further strained by a dramatic revelation concerning her time overseas.

The playwright doesn't always manage to weave his disparate themes together into a coherent whole, but the evening's bumps are smoothed over by his gifts for sharp, funny dialogue -- Richard's impassioned defense of his newfound happiness, as hilariously delivered by Bogosian, is a comic high point -- and incisive characterizations.

Under the excellent direction of Daniel Sullivan, the original cast members have gotten even better in their performances, with Linney, as always, infusing her portrayal with a shining depth and intelligence.

Ricci makes a highly impressive stage debut, mining the laughs and poignancy in her portrayal of the guileless Mandy, who ultimately is far more appealing than the sophisticated figures surrounding her.

Venue: Cort Theatre, New York (Through Jan. 23)
Cast: Laura Linney, Brian d'Arcy James, Eric Bogosian, Christina Ricci
Playwright: Donald Margulies
Director: Daniel Sullivan
Scenic designer: John Lee Beatty
Costume designer: Rita Ryack
Lighting designer: Peter Kaczorowski
Sound designer: Darron L. West
Original music: Peter Golub
Presented by MTC Prods., Nelle Nugent, Bud Martin, Wendy Federman, Ted Snowdon, Max Cooper, Susanne Adamski, Mari Nakachi and Elisabeth Morten/Sharon A. Carr in association with Jack M. Dalgleish and Joseph Sirola
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