Steppenwolf Theatre's Time Stands Still: A Difference of Opinion

"We could live there."

Both my partner and I thought this as we admired the detailed loft setting by Walt Spangler for Steppenwolf Theatre's current production of Donald Margulies' play, Time Stands Still. But that is the only thing we agreed upon once the lights went down and the show began. He didn't care much for the lead characters, while I found their dramatic story interesting. And I'm sharing our difference of opinion because that is the central theme of the play, in which a couple makes the difficult discovery that they no longer feel the same joy in their life together.

Directed by Austin Pendleton, Time Stands Still is about photojournalist Sarah Goodwin (Sally Murphy) who returns home to her Brooklyn loft after barely surviving a bomb blast in Iraq. She is cared for by her lover James (Randall Newsome), who yearns for a much simpler life like that of Sarah's editor Richard (Francis Guinan) and his young girlfriend Mandy (Kristina Valada-Viars). Will Sarah give up her emotionally satisfying and often dangerous career to start a family with James? That is the question to be answered as we get to know these four characters. It's an intimate drama that does seem a bit drawn out during its 2-hour plus running time, but I enjoyed the excellent performances by Murphy, Newsome and Guinan. However, the best part of the evening was being introduced to the delightful Kristina Valada-Viars, who - in her first Steppenwolf production - steals every scene she is in.

So I would recommend seeing Time Stands Still for its great acting (and nice set), but if Steppenwolf ever wants to do another play by Margulies, they should check out The Loman Family Picnic, which both my partner and I loved when we saw a 1993 Manhattan Theatre Club production starring Christine Baranski. Just a suggestion - because it is more pleasant when a couple feels the same joy during an evening of theatre.

Time Stands Still runs through May 13 in Steppenwolf's Upstairs Theatre (1650 N. Halsted). For tickets and further information, call the box office at 312-335-1650 or go to

The above photo is by Michael Brosilow, and below you can watch director Austin Pendleton talk about directing Time Stands Still.

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