After a hiatus of several months “Time Stands Still,” Donald Margulies’s outstanding four- character play reopens with three distinguished incumbents (Laura Linney, Brian d’Arcy James and Eric Bogosian) and one well-known newcomer: Christina Ricci has replaced Alicia Silverstone.
On second viewing, I found the play even more satisfying. Margulies, a gifted playwright, tells the story of a photojournalist Sarah Goodwin (Linney) and reporter James Dodd (James), who have been collaborating and cohabiting for 8 1/2 unwed years and are just back in their Brooklyn loft.
In James’s absence, Sarah was severely wounded in Iraq by a bomb; next to her in the car, her interpreter-guide and lover Tariq, was killed.
Waiting for the couple’s reports is Richard Ehrlich (Bogosian), their seasoned middle-aged editor, who comes around with his new girlfriend, Mandy Bloom (Ricci), an adoring and, not incidentally, pregnant young ditz.
Though neatly individualized, these four are also basic human types, and their interaction is not lacking for resonance.
At issue are war and peace, the perilously adventurous versus the settled family life, publishing or withholding disturbing material, and whether the work of Sarah and James may serve the cause of humanity or merely panders to sensationalist voyeurism.
What a repertoire of silently eloquent looks Linney has, how simultaneously loving and reproving d’Arcy James can be and how aptly Bogosian balances concern with self-interest.
To these Ricci brings a naively overeager first-act characterization yet a more restrainedly persuasive second-act one. Daniel Sullivan’s thoughtful direction and John Lee Beatty’s atmospheric set contribute to our pleasure.
At the Cort Theatre, 138 W. 48th St. Information: +1-212- 239-6200; http://www.telecharge.com Rating: ****
“In Transit,” which originated at New York’s dubious fringe festival and now reappears, courtesy of the worthy Primary Stages, has been kicking around for years. Its chief interest lies in being an a cappella musical, with the seven singing actors producing vocally all the music and sound effects.
Taking place mostly on the subway, it presents a number of familiar stories, enacted by a cast seemingly recruited for their plain looks. The nice, modest set by the gifted Anna Louizos includes the reshuffling of a few detached subway seats, and some vocal huffing and puffing.
The lyrics are functional enough, but the remarkably unvaried music bears only a passing resemblance to melody. It may be of interest that of the six authors (rather too many), four are in the cast.
What the Stars Mean: **** Do Not Miss *** Excellent ** Average * Poor (No stars) Worthless
(John Simon is the New York drama critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)
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