October 7, 2010
Theater Review | ‘Time Stands Still’
Wounds of War Run Deeper Than Ever
That a good play can sometimes make you feel bad is fairly obvious. If you make it to the sanguinary close of one of Shakespeare’s tragedies with nary an inward wince, for example, something is definitely amiss. It was about halfway through my latest visit to Donald Margulies’s “Time Stands Still,” which reopened on Broadway on Thursday night at the Cort Theater, after a summer hiatus, that my inward wincing became pretty unbearable.
By now I expected to be able to view Mr. Margulies’s moving portrait of a troubled relationship with a certain distanced equanimity. I had already seen the play twice. And yet so intensely felt — and intensely fine — are the performances of Laura Linney and Brian d’Arcy James, playing journalists reeling from the trauma of covering the Iraq war, that the play’s subtly accumulating power struck me with unexpected force.
Watching these superb actors portray a man and woman who love each other deeply and yet cannot establish a comfortable equilibrium, handily undid my own once again. With Ms. Linney and Mr. d’Arcy James bringing this intelligent, absorbing drama to such tortured life, attending “Time Stands Still” can feel like eavesdropping on two cherished friends at their most vulnerable and emotionally exposed.
One measure of the quality of a play is the caliber of the performances it inspires as the actors grow into their roles. Having lived inside these characters for almost a year now, since the play’s initial Broadway run beginning last winter, Ms. Linney and Mr. d’Arcy James have burrowed even deeper into their layers, sharpened the pinch of their conflicting desires, honed each moment of confrontation or affection to a precise pitch.
Eric Bogosian, who plays Richard, a magazine editor and the couple’s closest friend, has also found new layers of empathy — and wry exasperation — in his role. And Christina Ricci, the only newcomer to the cast, makes a confident, appealing Broadway debut…