By Angela Dell
Utah Valley University’s Platform Series through their Theater Department has brought a new caliber of theater to Utah Valley in years past as well as this current season, and Time Stands Still by Donald Margulies is no exception. It’s truly inspiring to watch these talented students work so hard to bring new and interesting messages to a rather sheltered valley. The dedication from the cast and crew is evident. Director Shelby Noelle Gist has painstakingly worked to produce a piece that is both sincere and profound.
Time Stands Still focus’ on the personal life of Sarah (Kalee Lynn Doyl), a photographer that journeys into war-torn, violent places to capture the despair and destruction that exists in parts unfamiliar to her audience. The play takes place in her apartment where she lives with her boyfriend of 8 years James (Tyler Allan Bohnstedt), a recently shell-shocked reporter on violent world events. We see the contrasts of their lives through their publisher Richard (Kory McIntire) and his new girlfriend, Mandy (Maddie Smith.)
Doyl’s portrayal of the driven, passionate person that is Sarah is both honest and natural. She finds apt moments in her performance to let her body and hand motions do the talking for her instead of letting the dialogue decide all of that for her. It’s easy to look at a character like Sarah and find it difficult to relate to her passion and hardness. Doyl’s sincerity brings more humanity to her that got this audience member to care just a little bit more. In conjunction with Bohnstedt’s light and gentle portrayal of James, you see exactly why their relationship is so complicated. Bohnstedt is particularly adept at letting his empathy for his character shine through. Through his sincere and focused performance, we see how much he cares about his character and with that how much his character cares about Sarah and a life with her.
In contrast, we have Richard and Mandy. Richard, who is a long-time intimate friend of both Sarah and James, fits into Sarah’s and James’ world. His maturity allows for him to be in their world but not of their world. McIntire gives Richard a worldliness that is both real and relatable. His grounded and confident delivery of his lines shows the audience that Richard is someone who knows what he wants and goes for it, despite any ribbing he receives from his friends. Mandy is worth it. In the beginning dialogue of the show, Mandy is portrayed as an ignorant and somewhat clueless character. We all join in on the joke that she clearly doesn’t know what she’s talking about. However, this in no way determines that she is unintelligent or unrelatable. In fact, during the second act, we see Mandy as an honest representation of the majority of people’s opinions about the violence that occurs in parts of the world and the helplessness the rest of us feel when we witness it. Smith does a masterful job balancing that particular portrayal of her character. She allows herself to be the “odd man out” while also being confident enough to express herself as kindly and honestly as she can.
Thanks to Gist’s ingenuity, the scene changes are thoughtful and smooth. Between each scene change, we watch as the characters slowly and smoothly change from one attitude to another through thoughtful music, and sound effects (Colin Skip Wilson.) The lighting design (Tyler Scott Mitchell) was planned out well by using warm colors like reds and oranges to portray strong angry emotion and purples and blues to highlight anguish and hopelessness. Kiera Swift’s costume design makes for easy transitions between scenes and gives each character their own unique presence on stage. In a small theater like UVU’s Exbox, the makeup doesn’t need to be heavy. Alanna Cottam does a superb job keeping the makeup both subtle and striking where it needs to be. The design team is clearly as invested as the director, which is so important to a production’s success.
This production not only gives you a glimpse into the lives of four very different and passionate people, it also gives the audience a glimpse at what PTSD is like for people who have gone through extreme trauma and how it affects their lives. Because of this, we see how removed they feel from people like Mandy who only want the happy and good in their lives. This play asks the questions: Is it good to live in ignorant bliss? Or does knowing all the facts about what’s going on in the world spur people to action, like it should?
Find time this weekend to see this profound and heartfelt production of Time Stands Still at UVU. You won’t be disappointed.
A word of caution: This play uses strong adult language and discusses Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and can be triggering for those who have experienced any traumatic incidents.
UVU Platform Series presents Time Stands Still by Donald Margulies
UVU Exbox Theater 800 W University Pkwy GT 627, Orem, UT 84058
March 15-17, 2018 7:00 PM
Time Stands Still Facebook Event Page