"Time Stands Still" opens with photo journalist Sarah Goodwin struggling to re-enter her home in Brooklyn, physically and emotionally. She has been injured in Iraq by a roadside bomb. Her partner, James Dodd, is trying to help her while dealing with his own emotional wounds and guilt of not being with her when she was nearly killed. Sarah is a renowned photo journalist. Her photos bring to light the atrocities that happen around the world, most of them inside war zones. She says that when she looks through the lens of her camera time stands still. Her own mental focus sharpens like the images she's capturing and she works through the rubble, the screaming, and the chaos in order to tell a story and makes a difference.
The characters in "Time Stands Still" struggle with the question, "Is what I'm doing making a difference?" Sarah says, "We're here to record life, not fix it." She says that she can't go inside each frame and change what's happening, stop the guns, or save the children. But, how long can you keep that emotional distance?
Only four characters tell this story. Sarah Goodwin is a strong female, independent, and driven to do her job of communicating to the world what is happening. The opening scene shows you that she intends to work her way back to the field. Her partner, and almost husband, James, is feeling a change in perspective. Her editor, Richard, has found new life in a new love which Sarah seems to look down on. Then, there's Mandy, the sweet young thing hanging on Richard's arm. Her perspective of the world is quite different from Sarah's. You expect them to really clash. They do, and yet, they have moments of understanding and challenging each other.
In the discussion with the actors after the performance, Valeri Mudek, who played Mandy said that at first glance you think that she's written as a simple girl, kind of a dumb blonde type, but she's not that shallow. She has emotional and spiritual intelligence. I felt that from her in the opening act. And, I thought, Mandy is like more of us than Sarah. I'm like Mandy. I want to feel safe. I cry about the children in those horrific photos. I can't dwell on them, or I feel depressed. I, like Mandy, think, What can I do? I'm grateful that I live in a place where I feel safe, where my children won't be murdered on the street, and I can appreciate beauty and kindness.
This play has strong images and language. It makes you really think about what is happening in the world and how it affects people. I would recommend it to high school age on up. Go to www.guthrietheater.org for showtimes and tickets and to see photos from the production. Visit my writer's blog www.maryaalgaard.blogspot.com for more on this show and my experiences at the theater. Click on the pages for Guthrie Theater or Children's Theatre Reviews.
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