Thursday December 14th 2017

“A Wrinkle In Time” review by Carol Moore

lifeline3 Highly Recommended **** The biggest problem with adapting a classic book like “A Wrinkle in Time” is that people have actually read the book – so they know what should/must be included.  I think I read “A Wrinkle in Time” for the first time when I was about ten, so I had expectations.  I’m happy to say that Lifeline Theatre’s family friendly production of “A Wrinkle in Time” hit every marker.  Fantastical, colorful, a little bit scary, heart-warming, and I loved it!  4 BIG Spotlights

Lifeline Theatre, a small (99 seats) venue in Rogers Park, is one of my favorite places.  If you’ve never been there, you’re missing something really special.  They’re unique because every play they do – for adults and for children – is their own literary adaptation.

Over the years, I’ve seen adaptations of many of my favorite books at Lifeline.  Historical swashbucklers: “The Three Musketeers” and “The Count of Monte Cristo”; Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities”; Charlotte Brontë’s “Jane Eyre”; Emily Brontë’s “Wuthering Heights”; Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” and “Northanger Abbey”.

They’ve also done adaptations of Dorothy L. Sayres’ Lord Peter Whimsey mysteries, and a brilliant twist on the Sherlock Holmes legend, “Miss Holmes”.  Recently, they’ve adapted young adult novels like Amy Timberlake’s historical, “One Came Home”; and “Monstrous Regiment”, set in Terry Pratchett’s Disc World; Austin Grossman’s comic-book style, “Soon I Will Be Invincible”; and my favorite, Neil Gaiman’s fantasy set in London Below, “Neverwhere”. AWrinkleinTime-kids-tesseroc

“A Wrinkle in Time” is a delightful fantastical adventure story about a girl named Meg Murry (Jamie Cahill), her uncanny little brother Charles Wallace (Davu Smith or Trent Davis) and their friend, Calvin O’Keefe (Glenn Obrero).

Meg is a misfit who doesn’t have any friends.  She’s very smart, but doesn’t do well in school.  People think Charles Wallace isn’t all there.  Their father has been missing for more than a year and people tell her Mother (Vahista Vafadari) to move on.

The story starts with that infamous quote, “It was a dark and stormy night.”  A hurricane is raging outside, and Meg is afraid her attic bedroom will blow away.  When she goes downstairs, she finds Charles sitting in the kitchen drinking cocoa.  When Mother comes into the kitchen, Charles’ new friend, Mrs. Whatsit (Madeline Pell), wearing a cloak made out of multiple sweaters, joins them in the kitchen.

Mrs. Whatsit and her friends, Mrs. Who (Javier Ferreira) and Mrs. Which (Carmen Molina), tell the children of a great and evil darkness.  They take the children to a planet called Uriel to see the “Happy Medium (Marsha Harmon) who shows them Earth partly covered by a dark cloud.

Then they take the children to Camazotz, where their father is imprisoned.  Everyone Camazotz does exactly the same thing at exactly the same time – even the children bounce balls or jump rope in sync.  Central Intelligence, which turns out to be an evil brain with Red Eyes (Naĩma Hebrail Kidjo), controlling everyone on the planet. AWrinkleinTime-MrsW's

The upper half of Lifeline’s stage area is covered by a large random-shaped grid.  There are two platforms behind the grid where Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which and Red Eyes stand.  Different sized crates and a few boulders become everything from a table and chairs to stumps in the forest and mountains on another planet.

The children on are on stage for the entire story.  Everyone else is part of the black-clad Ensemble when they aren’t playing a specific part.  The Ensemble become whatever is needed to move the story – for example, when the children are ‘tessered’, they pick them up and ‘toss’ them through space.

Kudos to Costume Designer, Izumi Inaba, for bringing the book’s descriptions to life.  Mrs. Whatsit needs to transform, the Ensemble peels off her cloak made of multiple sweaters revealing an entirely different creature.  Off earth, Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which wear brightly colored robes, trimmed with gold braid, and funky hats.  The people on Camazotz all wear shades of black, white and gray.  Red Eyes, the evil brain, wears all white with a vaguely brain-like. red light-up headdress.  On another planet, the sightless, faceless creatures are white, shapeless shroud with two or three people inside.  One large ‘monster’ which heals Meg she calls “Aunt Beast’.

“A Wrinkle in Time” runs through April 9th at Lifeline Theatre, 6912 N. Glenwood Ave., Chicago.

Running time is 2 hours with an intermission.

Performances are:

AWrinkleinTime-MegThursday and Friday at 7:30 pm

Saturday at 4:00 and 8:00 pm

Sunday at 4:00 pm

Tickets range from $20-$40.  Free parking with shuttle service to the theater is available in Lifeline’s remote lot at the northeast corner of Morse and Ravenswood.

To order tickets call  (773) 761-4477 or visit  www.lifelinetheatre.com.

To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Roun-Up and click at “A Wrinkle In Time”

 

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