Monday, August 5, 2013
Theater review: Journey through dimensions with a clan of kids in A Wrinkle in Time
And bring your inner child, too.
HURST A Wrinkle in Time, produced by Artisan Center Theater, is a story of individuality and non-conformity. Based on the classic book by Madeleine L’Engle and read by generations of children, the story opens with Meg Murry, an awkward teenager, being harassed at school by her peers because of her own unique gifts but also because her family is eccentric. Her father, a noted physicist working for the government, was sent on a secret mission and mysteriously disappeared.
Her younger brother, Charles Wallace Murry, is a genius on some level but socially inept, and her mother, Kate Murry, also a gifted scientist, is busy with her own work and the disappearance of her husband, leaving Meg alone to face the taunts and trials of teenage angst. Meg discovers secrets that lead her, Charles and friend Calvin on an adventure of a lifetime to save not only her father but also the world.
Taffy Geisel did an admirable job of both adapting this book for stage and directing this marvelous cast. There were some glitches, like rushed lines and missed cues, mostly from opening night trial and error, but overall the play was well done.
The set design was minimal but the large video screens on the east and west walls as well as the large one in the south corner more than made up for any lacking physical set construction. Because of the universe spanning adventure, the videos provided a much appreciated galaxy-traveling quality. The videos will surely keep the younger children engaged.
The minimal set design was due in part to the special choreography by Jennifer Leyva. In a particular scene the ensemble cast spirals and dances through the darkness dressed in black, holding lighted globes of varying sizes. As the scene progresses the darkness devours the light until nothing is left. The dance routine could use more polish, a few of the “stars” ran into others, but nonetheless was a poignant and powerful display of the evil that was being fought.
The costume design by Rebecca Roberts was nicely done but the special costumes were phenomenal. The Centaur Whatsit costume was excellent and provided the ability to sit astride the centaur. The Wings by Marjorie Bell and the Flying Creatures by Michelle Schmidkofer were amazing, but by far the best costumes were the Beasts by Jeannia Philips. The Beasts had a unique look and provided the actors within the costumes the ability to both see and act. They were very well crafted and a wonderful addition to the play.
The acting was superb. Morgan Gerdes as Meg Murry did a wonderful job. She was able to portray a nerdy yet sincere teenager at the outset of the play and then a strong woman of conviction during the final climatic battle with “IT.”
Parker Wilson as Charles Wallace Murry gave an excellent performance. His portrayal of the odd genius Charles Wallace was realistic and believable. There were a few times where Wilson jumped his lines and fidgeted with his costume sleeves too much, but he was very expressive and performed his lines with ease.
Jameson Taylor performed well as Calvin O’Keefe but at times seemed a little too reserved. The quiet way in which he spoke often times was drowned out by the other players.
Tonya Laree did well as Kate Murry, but had a more impactful role as Aunt Beast. Given the fact that she was covered in costume from head to toe she was still able to emote well enough to provide an emotional farewell scene with Meg Murry.
Jackie Holt did a masterful job as Mrs. Whatsit, the youngest of the beings that helped Meg on her adventure. Whether she was mumbling to herself or rolling down a ramp, Holt maintained the eccentricities of the character and was a pleasure to watch. She had a heart-warming quality in both her mannerisms and her speech. She had very good comedic timing and was amusing every time she was onstage.
Mrs. Who, played by Joanna Philips, was the second of the ancient beings that helped Meg on her quest. Philips did an amazing job in this role. She had an odd quality that carried through her character into every scene. Additionally, she had an uncanny ability to rattle off foreign language quotes naturally and smoothly.
Mrs. Which, the third of the ancient beings, was more of a leader than the other two and had a more royal air about her. Katy Wood was impressive both in her regal attitude and her commanding presence on stage. She truly acted the leader of this quirky trio and was able to portray a mystic air in both form and substance.
Timothy Raif was excellent as the Prime Coordinator. Raif portrayed the evil and smug personality well. You could feel the disdain and a better than thou attitude dripped off every word that Raif spoke. He was a pleasure to watch but also a bit reserved. It felt at times there was more to Raif than he was willing to give.
David Priddy did a fine job as Alex Murry, even when at times he wasn’t certain where he was supposed to be. He acted well enough and delivered his lines properly but I never got the feeling he was someone that Meg would really be looking for. Murry was the missing father figure and when he was finally found I didn’t get the impression that much was lost by him not being around. Priddy was a wonderful actor but in several scenes the character of Alex Murry almost got lost as an after-thought.
A Wrinkle in Time is a powerful story of individuality. It showcases the uniqueness of the universe and the people that fill it, and Artisan Center Theater, at the direction of Taffy Geisel, wove a masterful tale. Each scene had a story within the story to tell, and the observant audience member will walk away with a new-found appreciation for the quirky yet unique people that inhabit our lives. The play is both engaging for younger audience members and thought-provoking for those a bit more seasoned.
Pegasus News Content partner - John Garcia's The Column
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