Time Stands Still
By Donald Margulies
Directed by Nicholas Murphy
Starring Angel Allen and Owen Robertson
Cornerstone Theatre Company
Presented at Lowndes Shakespeare Center, Orlando FL
Some are addicted to gambling or drugs or American Idol, but Sarah (Allen) and James (Robertson) find addiction in the thrill of war photography and the documentation of starving refugees. There’s no shortage of either and a steady market for their work product so they travel. She takes the pictures, he writes the words but when a roadside bomb kills Sarah’s “fixer” in Iraq and breaks her leg it’s up to James to get her home to America. He wants to settle down and review old horror movies but she’s still up for helping magazines sell consumer goods as people cluck their tongues over world atrocities. Their editor Richard (Frank Jakes) has picked up a ditzy girlfriend Mandy (Anna McClintock). She’s half his age but prefers fluffy kitties and catered events and is easily impregnated. So what’s more important – living the American dream or letting or reminding us it doesn’t apply to most of the world?
As “issues” plays go, this one is more interesting than most. James recognizes he’s hooked on the thrill of living on the edge and putting oneself “in harm’s way” and realizes he needs to stop as we consider the morality of taking pictures while not helping those in need, debate whether reported violence is cathartic or desensitizing or both at the same time, and can we focus on the bright side of life while profiting from the dark? Ultimately he sums it all up with this pithy quote: “Fuck the oppressed.” He also has a hilarious rant about the well-to-do attending depressing plays about refugees to make themselves feel good – I’m pretty sure I saw the exact piece he’s taking about in this exact space a few years back. Mr. Jakes was the most energizing of the players, I felt he was about to come out into the crowd and sell us a time share. Ms. Allen was bitter and hard, two characteristics I feel are essential for war correspondent while her roommate had a softer side and was willing to quit while he was still alive. Ms. McClintock’s youth bride showed a nice transform from air head to super mom, and this entire tussle was set on another glorious Cornerstone set. A complete apartment filled the Santos Denton stage (The Blue Venue for you locals) and they even built a little TARDIS-like enclosure around the sound booth. This is the sort of play you need to debate on the way home, so a date is essential unless you are both about to hop off to Syria for the weekend.
For more information on Cornerstone Theatre Company please visit http://www.cornerstonetheatrecompany.com/