Review: Time Stands Still (AstonRep Theatre)

| May 30, 2017

Robert Tobin and Sara Pavlak McGuire star in Time Stands Still at AstonRep Theatre           


Time Stands Still

Written by Donald Margulies
at Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark (map)
thru June 11  |  tix: $20  |  more info
Check for half-price tickets   


Heart-wrenching yet humorous, this intimate drama is a must-see


Robert Tobin, Sara Pavlak McGuire, Kirra Silver and Rob Frankel star in Time Stands Still, AstonRep Theatre

AstonRep Theatre Company presents
Time Stands Still

Review by Lauren Whalen

War is hell. For the protagonist of Time Stands Still, it’s also a way of life. She has the fortune to be independently wealthy, an artist’s eye and the fortitude to travel to zones where unmistakable hell takes place. But after a bomb leaves her physically and emotionally scarred, and her partner frightened, a woman finds herself at a crossroads. Thoughtfully penned, directed and acted, AstonRep Theatre’s Time Stands Still features a complex female lead, whose actions affect those around her in realistic and surprising ways.

Sara Pavlak McGuire and Robert Tobin star in Time Stands Still at AstonRep TheatreTime Stands Still follows Sarah (Sara Pavlak McGuire), a gifted photographer with an adventurous spirit whose acclaimed work takes her to dangerous territory for months at a time. Sarah’s latest job is cut short, however, when a roadside bomb leaves her translator dead and her body broken. Sara’s long-term boyfriend James (Robert Tobin), a foreign correspondent who’s never been quite as successful, hovers over her in their shared American apartment, racked with guilt as an emergency called him back to the States when ordinarily, he would have been by her side.

Journalists and photographers who venture into dangerous territories are unique people, and often become addicted to the thrill of the chase, as well as the idealistic belief that by spotlighting such horrors, they are making the world a better place. Sarah, and to a lesser degree, James, are such creatures. Playwright Donald Margulies crafts his characters with a smart and hopeful eye, never shying away from their complexities and the decisions they face, both everyday and life-changing. Aside from a few abrupt blackouts and clumsy transitions, Georgette Verdin’s direction is nearly perfect, coaxing the best out of every character and actor. The plot of Time Stands Still makes for rich, compelling drama and both Margulies and Verdin are up to the Herculean task of presenting each character is a living, breathing human.

Robert Tobin, Kirra Silver, Rob Frankel and Sara Pavlak McGuire star in Time Stands Still

Scenic designer Jeremiah Barr maximizes the Raven Theatre West Stage and simultaneously makes it cozy, with a very realistic-looking apartment set that befits two traveling journalists who are rarely home at all. Arielle Valene creates a palette of earth tones and comfortable fabrics for a woman who is used to being on the move (and must camouflage herself as such), and is now forced to endure a very long convalescence. The cast is strong and skilled: Rob Frankel brings some welcome comic relief and a Mel Brooks-like air as Richard, Sarah’s editor and mentor, and Tobin’s James is naturally overbearing and conflicted. Only Kirra Silver, fresh out of school, is a little weak as Richard’s much younger girlfriend, but displays enormous potential to do well once she gains a bit more professional experience. And McGuire’s Sarah is Jeff Award-worthy: sarcastic and funny one moment, breaking down in tears from a traumatic flashback the next.

I hope Time Stands Still gets the audience numbers it deserves. An intimate portrait of a unique and risky profession, AstonRep’s production is heartwrenching, humorous and true: a tall order for a small play. Time Stands Still presents a complex female protagonist in a world set on killing her, with the resilience to move ahead at whatever the cost.

Rating: ★★★½

Time Stands Still continues through June 11th at Raven Theatre (West Stage), 6157 N. Clark (map), with performances Thursdays-Saturdays 8pm, Sundays 3:30pm.  Tickets are $20 (students & seniors: $15), and are available by phone (773-828-9129) or online at (check for half-price tickets at More information at time: 1 hour 50 minutes, includes an intermission)

Robert Tobin and Sara Pavlak McGuire star in Time Stands Still, AstonRep Theatre

Photos by Emily Schwartz 




Rob Frankel (Richard), Sara Pavlak McGuire (Sarah), Kirra Silver (Mandy), Robert Tobin (James), Maeli Goren (u/s Mandy), Ray Kasper (u/s Richard), Tim Larson (u/s James)

behind the scenes

Georgette Verdin (director), Jeremiah Barr (scenic design, props design, technical director), Arielle Valene (costume design), Samantha Barr (lighting design, production manager), Ray Kasper (sound design), Matthew Nerber (assistant director), Melanie Kulas (stage manager), Claire Yearman (intimacy coordinator), Lea Tobin (box office manager), Derek Bertelsen (associate artistic director), Emily Schwartz (photos)


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Category: 2017 Reviews, AstonRep Theatre, Lauren Whalen, Raven Theatre West Stage

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