Readers familiar with the science fantasy A Wrinkle in Time will likely be mesmerized by this energetic production at Round House. The rest of us can still be captivated by the wonder of traveling Wrinkle’s strange universe even if we might occasionally scratch our collective heads wondering what the bleep is going on.
The novel by Madeleine L’Engle, which includes lots of characters – human, animal and otherwise – has had an almost cult-like following since 1962. With this adaptation, John Glore keeps the play from scattering into the crevices of Alpha Centauri by mercifully focusing on the journey of a young teenage girl, her trials with “fitting in”.
The winsome Erin Weaver plays Meg Murry, a spunky, tightly wound fire cracker waiting to ignite. What’s lighting her fuse is her hurt and frustration in dealing with the absence of her father who disappeared while on a mysterious scientific mission two years ago.
Weaver, who may remind you of a young Hilary Swank, has a natural approach in portraying the multiple layers of Meg. The young talented Jacob Land plays Meg’s younger brother Charles Wallace with impish appeal and deadpan vocal tonality, and a new friend and potential love interest (if tweens could be in love), Calvin, is played nicely by Davis Hasty who, in manifesting the awkward adolescent teen phase, displays excellent comic timing and delivery.
Among the top-notch actors portraying the auxiliary characters are KenYatta Rogers, whose commanding presence can switch from silly to serious in a cosmic millisecond and two other heavy hitters with long lists of credits, Dawn Ursula, equally effective as Mother and other roles, and Tonya Beckman Ross. The three play a dizzying array of characters with such names as Mrs. Whatsit, Man with Red Eyes, Mrs. Which, Aunt Beast, some inhabitants of Camazotz—need I say more?
There’s enough human interest scattered throughout the strange specifics of this adventure to keep everybody engaged. The first act establishes the characters and their relationships, and introduces the concepts of time travel as a distorted “wrinkle” of fabric.
By the time the first act ends, the young people, immersed in their journey to find Mr. Murry, learn of the distinct possibility that they won’t make it out alive if they continue. The stakes couldn’t get any higher. Yet, onward they go and encounter scary bouts of mind control, disembodied floating spirit creatures and threatened loss of the young brother before coming to a family friendly resolution about the power of love.
Director Casey Sams keeps the action light with a comic, playful touch which helps balance some of the austere and severe segments in the script, so the levity is appreciated.
Scenic designer Misha Kachman places an enormous steel spiral staircase center stage where characters can hang out commenting on the action, or perch on the top rung precariously high above the rest of the action. A simple façade of the cozy family home wheels in and out easily which contrasts with the two-dimensional prison-like high rise complexes in the second act. Lighting designer Kenton Yeager went beyond his pay grade in creating an incredible swirling universe filled with a firmament of stars.
Wrinkle fans were in abundance long before there was a wizard-child franchise, Trekkies, or Deep Space Nine. They can now trek to Bethesda to introduce their own children to this epic quests in search for meaning and self-awareness.
A Wrinkle in Time
by John Glore
from the novel by Madeleine L’Engle
directed by Casey Sams
produced by Round House Theatre
reviewed by Debbie Minter Jackson