Time Stands Still

Geffen Playhouse
Los Angeles
(310) 208-5454


Playwright Donald Margulies’ ­latest play is “compelling, if at times elusive,” said Charles McNulty in the Los Angeles Times. What’s compelling is the relationship at its center, between a war photographer injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq and her reporter boyfriend, who feels guilty for not having been at her side. Sarah’s brush with death has convinced James that a “normal” life, away from the world’s trouble spots, is the proper course. Sarah, meanwhile, is hiding an affair with her Iraqi translator, who was killed in the incident. She’s clearly nursing some pretty serious psychological wounds, but “it isn’t always clear where Margulies is dramatically heading.” As a result the play waffles, sometimes confusingly, between a relationship drama and a more complex morality play.

The play’s themes may be wide-ranging, but a quartet of actors lends Daniel Sullivan’s production an “essential unity,” said Bob Verini in Variety. Anna Gunn and David Harbour “fully embody Sarah and James’ history and conflicts.” They particularly shine during moments of awkward “physical proximity” or when their dialogue overlaps quite realistically. Robin Thomas, as the couple’s old friend and editor, Richard, is wonderful. Alicia Silverstone, who plays his much younger girlfriend, Mandy, recognizes that her seemingly ditsy character exists to introduce several of the play’s larger questions, such as “How can one take photos of bleeding kids instead of intervening?” Despite this play’s flaws, the two hours really do “fly by as if time has stood still.”