The second play of the Lakeside Little Theatre (LLT) season is the romantic drama “Time Stands Still” by Donald Margulies.
Nominated for two Tony awards, the play opens with a montage of horrific war scenes. Children pointing guns at each others’ heads, people dead, children dead. All the horrors of war are revealed in the first five minutes of this production, setting the mood for the audience to enter the lives of two journalists who have been reporting from strife torn areas of the world for many years.
We are introduced to foreign correspondent James (Greg Custer) and his photojournalist girlfriend Sarah (Carolyn Cothran) in their New York loft apartment. Sarah was wounded in the Iraq war and has been released into the care of James, who returned earlier from the war zone with emotional scars. He has been shaken to the core after his terrible experiences and the near death of Sarah.
Back home, the couple are forced to face the prospect of a normal life. While James is delighted with the idea of never returning to the battleground, Sarah is appalled. In her mind, she believes that reporting on the atrocities of the world will somehow help stop them.
James is envious that their editor friend Richard (Don Beaudreault) is finally settling down with his young, naïve and pregnant girlfriend Mandy (Johanna Labadie). He desperately wants this life for himself and Sarah, who unfortunately does not agree.
The play is essentially a love story about James and Sarah, with propellant foils in the guise of Richard and Mandy. Margulies, a brilliant playwright with a wonderful mastery of language, reflects on the different growth paths and changing needs in long-term relationships, posing moral and ethical questions about the fragile balance between marriage and career.
The staging by David Goldman successfully captures the script’s essence, although at times it appears rather awkward around the table. Cothran is believable as the unfeeling and unemotional Sarah, a marked contrast to the over-emotional Mandy. Labadie is a welcome young addition to the LLT family and her portrayal of Mandy was light and sweet.
As Richard, Beaudrault deftly depicts a character with a likeable sense of humor, able to laugh at himself as an older man besotted with a younger woman. The highlight of this production, however, is the performance of newcomer Custer, who draws us in to James’ pain and vulnerability with his love for Sarah. Custer has a very strong stage presence and we hope to see him in more productions at lakeside.
Stage Manager Win McIntosh and Assistant Stage Manager Beryel Dorscht as usual whip everyone into place under the auspices of Producer Bruce Linnen. The show ran without a hitch on opening night. There was one moment when James hit/pushed Sarah on stage and the audience gasped. It was very real, and seemed a little unusual as it had no consequence. The audience assumed it was an accident on stage, not actually part of the play. Kudos to the actors for pulling that one off! The set design of the New York loft is by Alan Bowers and built by Alan Bowers, Richard Bansback, David Bryen, Michael Koch, Earl Schenck, Bryan Selesky and Terry Soden. The set is decorated by Joan Warren who is also doing props. Alan Bowers, Kevin Leitch and Garry Peerless do the lighting, sound is by Karen Lee and Hallie Shepherd and video by J.E. Jack. Johanna Clark and Deborah Kloegman are in charge of wardrobe, Cheryl Okerlund is a dresser and Nancy Jessop handles the makeup.