"Time Stands Still" Mends Abandoned Moments

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Standard practice within many a production is typically to task a cast with text, demand memorization and then empower a director to assign emotion. With so many artistic attempts taking place within this theatrical tidepool, one may easily experience at least a few formulaic-type shows, however this production of Time Stand Still breaks this formula.  

Time Stands Still is a story of a couple that has worked together traveling the world in the field of journalism. James is a correspondent and Sarah is a photo journalist. They have returned to New York after having covered a war but Sarah has been injured. Upon their return they reunite with Richard, Sara’s old mentor and friend who is the photo editor of a magazine and Mandy, who is Richard’s somewhat naive, new, young lover. The play deals with love, first impressions, transformation, fear, and the lingering possibility of loss.

Like many popular Fringe plays this season, this play has been produced before on many stages. So what can be newly explored within such nationally rehearsed text? The custom of taking on likable words and actions to tell and re-tell a story can feel “Pepsi Challenge”-esque from stage to stage and from cast to cast.  

This ensemble, however, effortlessly makes the hike through a valley of complex emotional terrain. “Can something be desensitizing and cathartic at the same time?” The terrain is sometimes rocky, evident in the veil of sarcasm and pain worn early in the play by Sarah (played brilliantly by Lauren Shein). It is smoky, thin, even misty. Within this play, her emotional journey is the most visible and the most cursory and this actress accepts the challenge competently.

Richard (played by Eric Lawson) radiates vulnerability, as well as an unexpected power driven by desire. He communicates the wants of his character comfortably. Lawson is uniquely able to balance these traits effectively and with patience. Furthermore, the chemistry between Lawson and Shein is enviable. The truth in their performances fills the lungs with gasps of anticipation. 

Ken Weiler as Richard is proof of a good eye with casting. Weiler adds a welcomed energy to his character while adding an appropriate empathetic balance to his onstage partner, Tanisha Gates, who plays Mandy. Ken Weiler’s performance invokes an enchanting ease.  

Weiler and Gates add legitimacy to characters that could easily become caricatures and the recollection of their amusing quips hits one for several days following the performance.

The set is simple and clean. Every prop has purpose, and although this author is not a fan of Sarah’s seemingly excessive medical garb, it plays true to script, though arguably, fewer pieces may be just as effective.

Transitions are a complex issue for any production. These seem on the bulkier side but will presumably tighten during the run. 

With a popular piece bursting with clever dialogue, explicit emotional imagery and a Pulitzer Prize winning author, the cast had a very high mark to meet. With its flow found within the first 10 minutes the compact cast of four seems full and powerful due to the size in talent. The enthralling ensemble effortlessly hits most of its marks and the cast seeps with skill. But it is not within these areas of skill that this particular production is able to display the artistic agility needed to exhibit more than a talented version of telephone in its re-telling of this story. It’s in the stillness.

Under Daniell Travis’ direction, passion is found within glances that permeate the pregnant silences. The juxtaposition of the two couples and their rise and fall is communicated not though tallied text but witihin the metered inhales. The skilled cast lightly coats this play with brilliant timing and an understanding of the power of professionally placed pauses. Within those pauses time truly does stand still; and this amazing cast reaches emotional newness.

Time Stands Still is a must see for any Fringe-goer that enjoys the sensation of feeling!

TIME STANDS STILL

Continuing at the Complex Theaters (Dorie Theater), 6476 Santa Monica Blvd

Performances: June 9 7PM, June 11 8PM, June 12 2PM, June 17 10PM, June 18 6:30PM, June 19 7PM, June 24 8:30PM, June 25 3:30 PM

Tickets are $15, for reservations and info go here.