On Saturday, February 25, at 7:25pm, my friend Leah and I got onto the regional rail from Temple University toward Doylestown to see a play. 30 minutes later, we got off at Ambler station. Had we not taken a wrong turn first, it would have only taken us 2 minutes to reach our destination, Act 2 Playhouse.
We went inside and were immediately handed the two tickets that had been left for me at will call. We were about ten minutes late, but the show had started promptly and everyone was already seated and engaged as we were shown to our row. The theater seats 130, and it was sold out (mostly with adults over 40). Instead of making us climb over everyone, the entire row scooted down so that we could have the end seats and didn’t even glare. I was already impressed.
After shuffling around getting my coat and over-stuffed bag situated, I finally focused on the stage, and was sucked in almost immediately. First of all, the set was awesome. Set up like the inside of an apartment that was decorated by grown-up hipsters (who, instead of thinking they’re too cool to care about material objects actually don’t care and just happened to end up with an assortment of furniture from Ikea and the Middle East). My favorite touch was that the kitchen sink had running water. (The “rain” that actually left the window panes wet was a close second).
Time Stands Still is a Broadway play that is making its Philadelphia debut at Act II Playhouse before moving on to the People’s Light and Theater Company in Malvern later this Spring.
The story follows a middle-aged couple who were brought together by their shared experience as journalists in war zones. After the woman is almost blown to pieces in the Middle East and the man has a meltdown after seeing other people blown to pieces one too many times, they are forced to re-evaluate their careers and decide if documenting suffering is what will ultimately make them happiest, or if they want a more conventional life. I won’t give it away, but I will say that the story is woven together beautifully, and that the mixture of anger, angst, tenderness, and humor feels effortless and makes the two hours fly by.
As a journalism student, the heated discussions about the true merit of journalistic work hit home for me in a profound way. My favorite scene in the show, however, was the dinner party discussion about whether seeing a play about world issues and educating oneself is a valuable use of time. It was as though the writers were winking at the audience the entire time, saying, “you’re not off the hook, here- it’s not just the characters who are going to have to think about the tough questions- you’re in this too”.
The acting was well executed and the leads, Susan McKey and Kevin Kelly, looked vaguely reminiscent of Amy Pohler and Jason Bateman, which was entertaining in and of itself.
Overall, I thought the show was very well done, and definitely worth the trip to Ambler. Though my friend and I ended up making our train back to Temple, we were crunched for time at the end of the show, so I would definitely recommend getting tickets for a matinee showing and then making an afternoon of hanging out in Ambler (which is adorable).
Act 2 Playhouse offers discounts in your PEX passport, and Time Stands Still is only running until March 11, so buy your tickets now and go see the show over spring break!