Photograph a dying baby lying on a dusty road. Carefully replace the lens cap. Walk away. It's just a job. Move on.
You didn't help? You didn't put down your camera and pick up the dying baby? What kind of woman are you?
A badly damaged one, this war photographer Sarah Goodwin, as she enters her apartment at the top of Time Stands Still, Joe Adler's latest production at Gable Stage. A month earlier, Sarah (Deborah Sherman) had been blown up by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. Her leg is in multiple braces, arm in a sling, and the entire right side of her face is scarred from flying shrapnel. It's not only her body that's hurting; so is her brain. She's burning with the guilt of years of snapping the dead and dying all around the world. But of course she won't admit it. And never will. Deborah Sherman is perfect as the acerbic, adrenalin junky Sarah.
She shares the apartment with her live-in lover, James Dodd (Steve Garland). They've been together eight and a half years. He's the war writer to her photographer, but he got shipped back just before she was blown up. He couldn't shake off the splattered blood and brains of the young girls killed so close to him he was drenched with their remains. Steve Garland is perfect as the man who wants to flee the war zones and raise a family. With Sarah.
The editor who publishes her photos and his text is their long-time friend, Richard Erlich, (Gregg Weiner), who's finally found love with his ditzy young girlfriend. Gregg Weiner is perfect as the old friend who tries to, but cannot, chase the demons away from Sarah and James.
Betsy Graver is the ditzy young girlfriend, Mandy Bloom, or so you'd like to think. But she's anything but a vapid maiden, for in reality her innocence is the only thing that makes sense in the lives of the four. Betsy Graver is perfect as the hot, hot babe who makes at least one person happy.
All this angst, recrimination and black humor is played out in two acts written by Donald Margulies and set in a Brooklyn loft. Joe Adler is perfect as the director who brings this dark piece to the light.
And that's five 'perfects' handed out so far, so let's keep it going with ten-out-of-tens handed also to set designer Lyle Baskin for the loft with the huge arched window through which Jeff Quinn's lights play over the Brooklyn industrial areas. Matt Corey's sound and Ellis Tillman's costumes also get the tens.
Time Stands Still is terribly moving theatre about all the ways to destroy oneself and all the ways to accept the ordinariness of normal life.
See it at GableStage through June 3. 1200 Anastasia Avenue, Coral Gables. 305-445-1119 http://www.gablestage.org
Roger Martin photos