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'Time Stands Still' (review): Focusing on the choices we make

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Life is all about the choices that we make. This issue takes center stage in the new production that opened last night at Main Street Theater. "Time Stands Still" a play by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Donald Margulies and in 2010 was a Tony nominee for Best Play. A hard hitting, socially conscious and quip filled play that takes you on a ride through the emotionally wounded characters.

Prior to the production, a few early audience members, myself included, got the rare opportunity to have an impromptu production discussion. We were able to sit down with the costume designer, Macy Lyne and sound designer, Alex Worthington. Both shared interesting insights into their particular work on the production as well as provided an interesting glimpse into the complexity that goes into their job.

Costuming has an important role in this play and with the modern setting added certain complexities. Lyne described how clothing was carefully chosen especially since the audience knows what is in style and tried to keep up with the times and what would best suit each character. Worthington provided insight for how the music and certain sounds were chosen to set the tone or highlight aspects of characters. One interesting discussion point was the choice that went into choosing the cell phone ring tone for a character. He expressed how we all carefully select this and it "says a lot about us" based on what we choose. We were given insight into just how important each detail of the play was to making sure the entire show is a success.

Walking into the theater, you feel as if you are literally walking into a Brooklyn loft based on staging and artistic choices. Just as the sound designer described, Middle Eastern music is heard to set the somber tone for the opening act. This play tells the story of a wounded photojournalist who just arrives back from covering the war in Iraq. Sarah played by Sara Gaston and boyfriend James played by Sean Patrick Judge are anything but a normal couple. Both are traveling journalist covering the harshest and most dangerous areas to bring light on the plight of those around the world.

Gaston captivates audiences with her harsh, moving performance of a woman struggling to understand her place in the world and in her relationship. Judge equally moves the audience as we watch him struggle to understand all that he has seen and survived and attempt to create a life outside of all the chaos and suffering. Photo editor of a magazine and friend, Richard, played by Jack Young, has a new young perky girlfriend Mandy, played by Lisa Villegas, and they offer a sharp contrast. They are both happier characters in life and with their choices. Mandy quickly becomes pregnant which serves to remind Sarah and James what they have given up in the pursuit of their dreams and career goals.

This play is a harsh, biting look at the choices and sacrifices we make in life to do what we think and feel is right. Each element of the story, set and each character’s performance blends to create an emotionally charged production that leaves the audience torn. We struggle along with these characters as they decide what is best for their lives, themselves and how that falls in line with their moral values. A moving production with top-notch performances by all cast members, it is a production not to be missed.

"Time Stands Still" opened last night and runs through April 19 at the Main Street Theater in Rice Village. Recommended for audiences of 18 and up. For ticket information, visit MainStreetTheater.com, call 713-524-6706 or visit the box office located at 2540 Times Blvd. Be sure to browse their website and see the exciting renovations as they prepare for future performances and changes.

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