The TSS Collective reunites the cast and team from Eclectic Theatre’s Toronto Fringe 2014 production of Donald Margulies’ Time Stands Still, directed by Jordan Merkur and getting a run of the full version of the script (the Fringe production was abridged for running time) at the Theatre Passe Muraille mainspace.
Out of the more minimalist confines of Fringe, the TSS production of Time Stands Still gets a fully realized set, designed by David Wootton. The New York City loft living room has the easy, lived-in look of inhabitants who don’t spend much time there, with evidence of their travels – tribal masks and mementos from Africa and the Middle East – apparent throughout, the only decoration among the mismatched, haphazard furniture and shelves of books.
It is to this space that photojournalist Sarah (Kirstin Rae Hinton) returns, recovering from serious injuries sustained while covering the war in Iraq – coming home with the assistance of long-time boyfriend and journalist colleague James (Jason Jazrawy) and to their anxious photo editor friend Richard (Sam Rosenthal), who introduces them to his new, much younger girlfriend Mandy (Carleigh Beverly). Richard wants a more simple life and relationship; and, after what he’s seen and experienced, James wants a change for his and Sarah’s life together too. But will it give Sarah what she needs?
This is an excellent cast. Hinton gives us a Sarah who is both sharp-witted and sharp-tongued, a tough as nails and ballsy professional who’s driven and fearless in a war zone, but finds herself frustrated and impatient in everyday situations. Thriving on stress and tension, she’s at her best while viewing the world through the lens of one of her beloved cameras – but far from immune to the horrors she’s witnessed and recorded, the physical scars she bears mirror the emotional ones beneath, leaving her conflicted over a job, a calling, that she loves.
Really nice work from Jazrawy with James and his conflicted responses to this homecoming. An accomplished writer and supportive partner to Sarah, James wants to be strong for her, but is not always sure how to best do that and is struggling with his own psychological injuries; he too loves the work, but is finding it hard to reconcile that with the real and present danger the job presents. Turning his hand to writing about the imagined terrors of horror movies feels safer than mining his own psyche for the real-life atrocities he’s stood in the middle of.
Rosenthal’s Richard is a teddy bear of a guy, a nice combination of wise-ass friend and colleague, with a hint of father figure for Sarah – a man whose life is in transition as he tries a new kind of romantic relationship with a much younger and simpler woman than he’s previously dated. As Mandy, Beverly gives us a sweet, effervescent young woman; child-like in that she blurts out whatever she’s thinking, but far from being a bubble-head, what Mandy lacks in academic intelligence and broader pop culture awareness, she makes up for in compassion and emotional intelligence.
Time Stands Still is a moving, at times darkly funny, look at the physical and psychological dangers that journalists live with – all while capturing and recording those events and moments so the rest of us can see and know what’s going on ‘over there’ from the safe confines of our newspapers and monitors. Finding stillness and connection in the chaos. Go see this – and if you’ve seen it at Fringe, go see it again.
Time Stands Still continues on the TPM mainspace until March 29. You can see the full schedule and get advance tix online here.