Time Stands Still Movingly in ReAct Theatre Production
Sarah (Maria Knox) is the photographer, a rather stoic type who has suffered physical injuries and is going through monotonous rehab, under the edgily watchful eye of journalist James (Brian Pucheu), who endured emotional scarring both from the carnage he repeatedly wrote about, and from being betrayed in the bedroom by Sarah who had a tryst with her interpreter. James' best friend and editor Richard (John Bianchi) is one of those really nice guys who struggles with and gets hurt by more tough-skinned types like James and Sarah, but he finds a goofily charming, much younger love interest in Mandy (Mona Leach). After initially dismissing her, Sarah becomes friendly with Mandy, and in the course of the drama, both couples walk down the aisle, though with decidedly differing results. Sarah and James' relationship evolves, erodes and reconfigures as this naturalistic tale plays out.
Knox creates a marvelously complex, not always likable protagonist as Sarah, and is well-matched by Pucheu who captures the quieter pain of James, making us see clearly why a more "normal" life may be his salvation. John Bianchi plays Richard with disarming ease and humor. As for Ms. Leach, she takes the most humorous and seemingly least developed role, and hits a homerun by infusing her with energy, joy and compassion, making Mandy someone who is a classic case of never judge a book by its cover.
Director Hsieh and his cast create a true ensemble effort, and if the opening night pacing was a little erratic, that will surely evaporate through the run. ReACT is a theatre deservedly noted for color-blind casting, and this production is all the better for it. Time Stands Still is the kind of play that rarely makes it to Broadway anymore, though it had a solid and lauded run there. Companies like ReACT and ArtsWest are where many recent plays get their first local exposure, and I say more power to them.
Time Stands Still from ReACT Theatre runs through August 24, 2014, at the UW Kelly Ethnic Cultural Theatre, 3940 Brooklyn Ave. NE (on the corner of Brooklyn Ave. and NE 39th St.) For tickets go to www.reacttheatre.org.