New play captures hard angles of war, life

Gary Linehan, The Union Democrat /

Sierra Repertory Theatre will presentPulitzer-Prize winning author Donald Margulies's highly acclaimed new drama, "Time Stands Still,"Friday through Oct. 28on its East Sonora stage.

As a seasoned photo journalist, Sarah Goodwin has made her living looking through a lens, freezing moments of heartache, horror and humanity in the war-torn corners of the globe.

She and her long-time partner, combat reporter James Dodd, have always shared a deep commitment to their work.

So when a roadside bomb in Iraq sends her home to New York for months of painful recovery, both are reeling from the trauma. In witty, engaging conversation, the couple gingerly explores this new direction their lives have taken, not sure what it's revealing.

Can they recover from the wounds and adjust to a more conventional life? And should they?

Those are among the questions explored in "Time Stands Still."

As Sarah and James struggle to bring their relationship and careers back into focus, fissures emerge. When their old friend and editor arrives with his new young girlfriend, the contrasts are stark for everyone in the room.

The New York Times wrote that the play "crackles with bright wit and intelligence," and called it "a moving portrait of a troubled relationship … 'Time Stands Still' can feel like eavesdropping on two cherished friends at their most vulnerable and emotionally exposed."

Scott Gilbert, former artistic director at Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival and the Foothill Theatre Company in Nevada City, is guest directing the compelling story.

Los Angeles actor Stasha Surdyke plays Sarah and New York actor Joe Gately is her partner, James. Both are professional actors with years of stage and screen credits. Surdyke just finished leading roles at the Laguna Playhouse and produced and starred in an award-winning production of Noel Coward's "Private Lives" in Burbank. Gately's recent regional productions range from Daddy Warbucks in "Annie" to the historical drama "Triangle Shirt Fire" to the drama "God of Carnage."

Playing their long-time friend, Richard, and his new fianceé, Mandy, are longtime company actor Ty Smith and newcomer Lindsey Graham of Los Angeles.

The characters are all very well drawn, Gilbert said, and the ensemble cast "will keep you mesmerized" as you are drawn into their fascinating world.

"Margulies is a really good writer, and he's crafted a very good play about interesting people caught up in an interesting situation," Gilbert said. "We get caught up in them … they're smart and they're funny. It's captivating to see them grapple with real issues in real ways. There are genuinely funny moments and some genuinely troubling ones."

The contrast of the two relationships is the heart of the story, Gilbert said, "but there are larger forces also being reflected."

Sarah and James are at a turning point in their careers, and are asking themselves serious questions about their roles as journalists on the front lines of conflict.

In an online interview with "More Intelligent Life," Margulies said "Time Stands Still" is not a political play, but is "very much about the choices and compromises we all make - in love, in work and, particular in this play, in war. Ethical struggles touch on all aspects of life."

Gilbert said it's intriguing for him to have such a contemporary setting.

"As a director, I'm very used to taking something really old and finding ways to make it relevant to today's audience," he said. "This play is directly connected to the way people live now and what's going on in the world today. That's exciting."

Gilbert is working with SRT's resident production team. SRT Producing Director Dennis Jones, the show's scenic designer, is joined by lighting designer Christopher Van Tuyl, costume designer Bina Bieker, property master Mercy Sharpe and stage manager Lia Metz.

Thursday and Friday performances begin at 7 p.m., Saturday evening shows begin at 8 p.m. and Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday matinees begin at 2 p.m. There is a Thursday talk back with cast, crew and designers on Thursday, Oct. 18, immediately following the show. Friday nights will also feature wine tasting with selected local wineries.

Tickets range from $24 to $30 depending on the performance day, with discounts available for students, seniors and groups.

For more information or reservations, call Sierra Rep's box office at 532-3120 or visit Sierra Rep at www.sierrarep.org.

This show is rated R for language and mature themes.

11881219
The Union Democrat
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