Life does not go on, and will soon be joined by Newsweek, at least as far as dead-tree publication is concerned. Sorry, that's what stuck in my head while watching Little Lake Theatre's polished production of Donald Margulies' Time Stands Still. The 2009 drama's premise includes a weekly newsmagazine that's presumably still healthy — which the central character is not. Nor are her relationships.
The play begins two months after hot-shot war photographer Sarah is nearly killed by a roadside bomb. She arrives "home" in Brooklyn to confront her life (and the various meanings of it), her long-time boyfriend/colleague, her editor and a wild card. Time (the play, not that other magazine) tracks how Sarah mends physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually, with lots of existential discussion along the way. Recording wars, famines and genocides halfway around the world for a U.S. audience that otherwise would not know, or care, is: (a) heroic; (b) narcissistic; (c) a worthy vocation; or (d) a total downer. Is it more valuable, or less important, than bearing and nurturing new life?
The four-person, single-set drama is a good fit for Little Lake and director Sunny Disney Fitchett. The intensity level stays high, transitions hit the right notes, and laughs come just when they should. The cast is solid, led by Mary Liz Meyer, whose eyes and facial bones quiver with Sarah's passions and rages. Opposite her, Mark Cox makes the perfect preppy James, a trust-fund-baby war correspondent whose long dance with horror and danger now leads him to an appreciation of normal life. Art DeConciliis is by turns funny and wistful as the editor contending with the banal realities of the magazine business, the egos of its contributors, and the delights of family. Laura Barletta matures well from the comic-relief girlfriend of the first act to the sensible grown-up of the second.
The well-spoken dialogue opens minds as well as hearts. The title refers to the photographer's perspective when what fills her camera's view-finder fills her world. Time Stands Still provides lots of thought-fodder.