Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Still Life In Sharp Focus

When we watch the news or read the newspaper, we sometimes forget the people behind the camera. But photographers have an important job — and their profession is the centerpiece in Dobama Theatre’s fall opener and Tony Award nominee Time Stands Still, which runs through Oct. 6.

Sarah, an accomplished war photographer, returns home from the Middle East after a near-death experience. As she recuperates, she is forced to confront life at home in her Brooklyn flat, which she shares with her partner James, a war correspondent. But these tense scenes, crafted by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Donald Margulies, are cleverly balanced with much needed snarky, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf-esque jabs between the couple and another pair.

With the Syrian conflict still very much on the forefront of current events, the play inadvertently situates itself in the center of nearly everyone’s conscious. The timing couldn’t be better. But if that isn’t enough to get your drama juices going, then here are three other reasons why you should catch this play:

Photo by Steve Wagner

Push/Pull Factor: Sarah is an adrenaline junkie. Time spent at the center of horrific war zones gave her a sense of purpose and excitement.  Despite the nightmares and symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder she experiences, Sarah is relentless in her attempts to go back out, even if it costs her everything she has back home. But a conflict arises because those moments of running from bullets and bombs have long faded for James, who is ready to settle down and have children. 

From the Front Lines to Brooklyn: The play begins by projecting war images on the glass of the couple’s Brooklyn flat. The imagery is powerful and fast, but more importantly, effective in immediately throwing the audience into the eye of the camera. What strikes the heart of this narrative is the question of the exposure to violence — where do we draw the line? By the end of the play, you may be asking yourself where you stand.  

Cast: These are first-rate performances executed with great depth. Each member of the cast exhibit qualities that we can all relate to in some way or another. During a Q&A before the show, Director Nathan Motta touches upon the complexities of Sarah’s character, saying, “Despite the people she cares about, she has to look through this rectangle, time stops around her, and I think we all know people like that.”

For more information on theater this fall season, check out Cleveland Magazine's Arts & Entertainment Fall Preview here.

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