LEWISTON -- “Time Stands Still,” a play making its Maine premiere at The Public Theatre, matches an excellent cast with a compelling and provocative story.
The result is a must-see production that explodes with intense performances and evocative points of view. “Time Stands Still” will rank among TPT’s best shows.
Janet Mitchko delivers a faultless portrayal as Sarah, a dedicated war-zone photojournalist recovering from road-side bomb injuries.
Evan Mueller plays James, who has been Sarah’s personal and professional partner for several years.
Now, they have returned to their Brooklyn loft where she struggles with recuperation under his well-intentioned but ceaseless attention. Mueller gives the character a good balance between zeal for adventure and a new-found desire for domesticity.
Sarah’s unyielding passion for capturing images of war and suffering is based on her unfaltering belief that she can be an instrument for change. James is ready to settle down, swapping the adventures of a war correspondent for a book he is writing about cultural impacts of horror movies. He coasts along with his new project, but his real emotional investment is in a magazine article he wrote about refugees.
James and Sarah are steered into new ways of examining their situation when Richard, their close friend and James’ magazine editor, visits them with his new love, Mandy, who is much younger and seemingly naïve.
David Newer gives his portrayal of Richard both forcefulness and compassion. He is an intelligent magazine editor who is shepherding James’ article to publication. He is concerned for his friends who are facing drastic changes in their lives, and he is unapologetically delighted with Mandy’s guileless personality.
Richard’s long-time friendship with James is threatened when he delivers bad news about publication of the article.
Jessica DiGiovanni, playing Mandy, is a newcomer to the TPT stage, and she meets the challenge of a demanding role with skill. At first meeting, James and Sarah are ready to dismiss Mandy as a shallow young woman, but it becomes evident that Mandy recognizes universal values of simple pleasures and family. DiGiovanni successfully develops a subtle transformation in Mandy from simplicity to surprising perception.
“Time Stands Still” focuses on contrasting choices. Like the lenses in Sarah’s cameras, there are two sides … the reality in front and the resulting impression that is created by the photographer and the viewer.
Christopher Schario, director of this play and TPT’s artistic director, guides this outstanding cast through a tense and engrossing theatrical presentation.
He said the wonderful thing about this play “is that it presents both sides of all arguments in an entertaining and powerful way, leaving the audience to make up their own mind.” There’s also a good deal of wit and humor in this show, and a large helping of adult language.
The play’s author is Pulitzer Prize-winning Donald Margulies, who wrote “Dinner With Friends” and “Collected Stories.” In this play, which is essentially a powerful love story, everyone faces choices that range from war-versus-peace and chaos-versus-comfort to home-life versus globetrotting. Which choices offer the answers they seek?
“Time Stands Still” had a successful Broadway run in 2010-2011 and it earned Margulies a Tony nomination for Best Play.
Mitchko, who is TPT’s co-artistic director, has appeared in many comedies and dramas on the TPT stage. Mueller and Newer have been seen at TPT in several productions. DiGiovanni has appeared in New York at The Manhattan Theatre Club and can also be seen (and heard) in multiple television commercials.
Remaining performances of “Time Stands Still” are at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 21, and Friday, March 22, and at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 23. The Sunday show, March 24, is at 2 p.m. and there is as an added matinee at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 23.
Tickets are $18 for adults, $15 for groups of 10 or more, and $5 for anyone 18 and under. For tickets call 782-3200 or for more information visit the Web site at www.thepublictheatre,org.
The Public Theatre is located at Lisbon and Maple Streets, Lewiston.
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