Drama of love and war comes to Sarasota

'Time Stands Still" winds up Banyan Theater's season

mclear@bradenton.comAugust 8, 2013 

Katherine Michelle Tanner as Sarah and Jim Sorensen as James in "Time Stands Still." Gary Sweetman/publicity photo


Sarah is a renowned photojournalist, recently wounded in war in an unnamed foreign country. She's back home after a long hospital stay, her arm in her sling and her foot in a cast.

Her husband, James, is a war correspondent who has come home unscathed from that same war. While Sarah has been hospitalized, he has learned to enjoy the safety and serenity of their Brooklyn apartment.

They're the central characters in "Time Stands Still," a 2009 drama by Pulitzer Prize-winner Donald Margulies. It's the final production of the summer for Banyan Theater Company, opening today.

Director Don Walker, whom Banyan audiences saw on stage in "Painting Churches" earlier this summer, praised the script's pace and complexity.

"With every scene, you learn something more about these characters," he said.

One dilemma Sarah and Richard face, Walker said, is how to adjust their relationship so they can survive in tranquility, instead of the intensity they're used to when they're covering wars. James wants to stay in Brooklyn, and he wants Sarah to stay with him. Sarah wants to get back to her career, and to the action, as soon as she's healthy."It's about the cost of love for yourself and for your passion," said Katherine Michelle Tanner, who plays Sarah. "It's about asking yourself how much you're willing to give up to love another person."

Along with Tanner, the cast includes Jim Sorensen, the managing director of freeFall Theatre in St. Petersburg, as Jim; Tom Apostoros as the couple's friend Richard; and Chelsea Gonzalez as Richard's much-younger girlfriend Mandy.

Tanner, who recently finished the one-woman show "The Amish Project" at St. Peterburg's American Stage, said she loves the strength of the character she plays and the intricate rhythms of playwright Margulies' dialogue.

"This script is like jazz, like good jazz music," she said.

Margulies has characters talking over and interrupting each other, much as people do in real-life, Tanner said. He's explicit about his conversation rhythms, but it's still a challenge to get them exactly right, she said, but when the cast can perfect them the results can be magical.

Margulies won the Pulitzer in 2000 for "Dinner With Friends." Besides that play and "Time Stands Still," he's best known for "Collected Stories" and "Shipwrecked! An Entertainment."

Details: Aug. 8-25, Jane B. Cook Theatre at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts, 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Show times: 8 p.m. Aug. 8-10, 14-17, 21-24; 2 p.m. Aug. 10-11, 17-18, 24-25. Tickets: $28.50 Information: 941-351-2808, www.banyantheatercompany.com.

Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.

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