'Time Stands Still' opens Everyman season

Last December, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta declared the end of the war in Iraq. Whether there will be an end to repercussions from that war remains to be seen.

One such repercussion involves a wounded photojournalist named Sarah and her reporter boyfriend James in "Time Stands Still," a 2010 play by Donald Margulies that opens Everyman Theatre's season this week.


"America has been at war for 10 years," says Everyman artistic director Vincent Lancisi. "We're going to see a lot more plays like this."

For much of the past decade, the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have not dominated the daily news cycles or kitchen table conversations.

"Margulies is very aware that Americans have little appetite for even being aware of what's going on in a war far away," said Jason Loewith, director for the "Time Stands Still" production. "That's a struggle the characters are facing, too."

In the play, Sarah returns to New York after being badly injured by a roadside bomb. Her attempt to resume her life with James is complicated by many factors, not the least of which is his guilt about leaving Iraq before Sarah did.

Their relationship is tested further by the visit of another couple — an editor and his much younger new girlfriend.

"At first, the play feels like an investigation into how a faraway war hits home," Loewith said. "As you go deeper and deeper, it becomes an intense domestic drama about [a man and woman] who can't commit to each other."

"Time Stands Still" marks the third Margulies work presented by Everyman since 2007.

"He's one of the best writers we have crafting realistic dramas that have to do with human relationships," Lancisi said. "He understands the complexities of subtext. Actors have to be up to snuff to do his plays; it's a minefield of subtext they're walking."

Those inner issues in "Time Stands Still" include the nature of journalism in war, the role of the chronicler and observer — how, as Lancisi put it, "your job is to take pictures, not change the picture."

"Bearing witness, even when no one is looking, is an incredibly selfless act," added Loewith, "and Sarah is a junkie about it. The question being asked by Margulies, and the question that will be asked by the audience, is: How do you walk nobly in the world?"

Another question may pop up from some folks in the audience: How come the play isn't being done at Everyman's new home on Fayette Street?

The 2011-2012 season was supposed to be the last in the Charles Street venue, but slowdowns in construction and fundraising pushed the opening date at the new theater to mid-January 2013.

"The delay gave me a chance to program a season for two spaces," Lancisi said. "I'm actually digging it. You know how you can experience a moment in time when nothing is the same after? It's a moment of transition, when 'time stands still.' That's where Everyman sits right now."

Time has been flying for Loewith while working with Beth Hylton (Sarah), Eric Messner (James) and the rest of the cast for the season opener.


"I only nudged the actors a little one way or another," the director said. "I felt like roadkill on a freeway full of Porsches. They just zoomed past. That's how much grit and determination and concentration these artists had."

Lancisi is likewise upbeat.

"It's a great cast," he said, "and a great play. Serious theater-goers are going to eat this up. It's a story you can sink your teeth into."

If you go

"Time Stands Still," which opened Wednesday, runs through Oct. 7 at Everyman Theatre, 1727 N. Charles St. Tickets are $10 to $50. Call 410-752-2208 or go to