Venue: Tap Gallery (Surry Hills NSW), Nov 1 – 25, 2017
Playwright: Donald Margulies
Director: Claudia Barrie
Cast: Laura Dejanegara, Matt Minto, Terry Serio, Emily J Stewart
Image by Katie Barget
After sustaining serious injuries in Iraq, Sarah returns to Brooklyn, under the care of her partner James. For the first time, the independent woman turns reliant, and we watch the nature of their relationship go through a gradual but drastic change.
Donald Margulies’ Time Stands Still examines the meaning of modern living for some of the more fortunate people of our times. The action is situated in a New York apartment, where its inhabitants engage in degrees of introspection, never having to worry about money, food or shelter. The play oscillates between concerns that are admittedly frivolous, with international issues that are unquestionably serious. It discusses responsibilities of the world’s rich, as other parts of the globe engulf in flames and disaster, while simultaneously worrying about the dwindling relevance of marriage and monogamy.
The production places its audience quite literally inside Sarah and James’ home. The intimate setting exposes us to the frequently caustic energy that seethes between its characters, although a greater sense of polish for the set, would improve the story’s ability to focus on its concerns regarding class and privilege. Claudia Barrie’s direction is strong for the piece; we are constantly reminded of its deeper resonances even when people are squabbling over the pettier things in life.
Leading lady Emily J Stewart is full of conviction, and effective in providing a quality of heightened sentimentality to the show, although her Sarah seems too persistently vulnerable, with an overemphasis on her role’s fragility, that can interfere with the play’s celebration of female autonomy. Matt Minto is persuasive as James, the journalist determined to retreat from the rough business of war correspondence. The actor is beautifully nuanced in his portrayal of a man struggling to dominate his household. Supporting players Laura Dejanegara and Terry Serio are both delightful and dynamic, adding charming effervescence with every appearance.
Guilt means nothing if it is not an intermediary emotion that leads to proactive action. With the proliferation of information technology, big business sells us news stories about terrible things happening near and far, and we live in a state of constantly feeling bad as a result of this new capitalism. Disaster porn is lucrative, and we pay for it with money and with languishing in sadness, wondering who is left to go and solve the problems.