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A Wrinkle in Time

a Atlanta Premiere
by John Glore (Based on Madeleine L'Engle)

COMPANY : Theatrical Outfit [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Balzer Theatre @ Herren's [WEBSITE]
ID# 4294

SHOWING : April 11, 2012 - May 06, 2012



Based on the 1963 Newbery Medal-winning novel by Madeleine L'Engle.
“It was a dark and stormy night”…when Meg Murry, an awkward, teenaged girl is transported on a fantastical journey to rescue her father, a gifted scientist, from the dark forces that hold him prisoner on another planet. This inventively staged, child-friendly science fiction adventure will delight audiences as they travel with these children, challenging concepts of time, space and triumph of good over evil.

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Hyper-Tesser-Active Voice
by Dedalus
Friday, April 27, 2012
It was a dark and stormy night!

Such is the purposefully banal opening of Madeleine L’Engle’s totally un-banal 1962 book, “A Wrinkle in Time,” the young adult speculative fiction book that gave us the marvelously eccentric Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Which, and Mrs Who, not to mention the faster-than-light travel concept of the “Tesseract,” a “folding” of space and time that found its way into countless classics of science fiction ever after.

And now, Theatrical Outfit gives us a marvelous staging of John Glore’s 2010 stage adaptation in which six chameleon-like actors give us Tardis-full of odd and alien characters as they tell us the story of Meg Murry’s quest for her father.

Meg is a young girl of extraordinary intellect and even more extraordinary imagination. She is lying in bed as the dark and stormy night rages around her. The daughter of scientists, she can’t sleep, so she joins her genius little brother Charles Wallace for a cup of late night cocoa. Faster than you can say “too much exposition,” Meg, Charles Wallace, and an older schoolmate (Calvin O’Keefe), are “tesseracted” away to find Meg’s missing father. Their guides are a trio of eccentric characters who hide in the guise of the dotty Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Which, and Mrs Who. Their adventures take them into the heart of “the black” as they visit the mechanistically grim planet of Camazotz. They find Father, but lose Charles Wallace during their escape to a kinder, gentler planet, where the nurturing Aunt Beast obscurely leads them to the path of happily ever after.

This is, of course, an over-simplification of an insanely imaginative story, which leads me to one of the shortcomings of this adaptation – there’s a lot of story to squeeze into a quick 90-minute one act, and there’s nary a breath-taking pause before we are confronted with a new wrinkle in plot, a new creature breaking the bizarro-tron scale, a new narration sequence to fill us in on what we’ve just missed.

Constructed in the Nicholas-Nickleby style of tight-ensemble-giving-narration-while-flitting-from-character-to-character, the script relies perhaps too much on our listening (and imagining) abilities, but, this is a style I’ve always enjoyed, and here, the ensemble is small and talented and makes the story-telling look easy.

Maybe I have an advantage because I (more or less) went in knowing the story, so I find it difficult to judge how smoothly this adaptation goes down to the uninitiated (and the very young). I was, in fact, supposed to see this with my daughter, but was stood up for (shudder) a day of shopping (the nerve)! In any case, I had a good time, primarily because of the time and care that went into the design and construction of this production, and, if I am any judge of audience, so did the grown-ups and kids I saw this with (I’d say it’s a tad long and scary-dark for the under-eight set, but everyone else should enjoy it).

The costuming by Shay Buckley is especially impressive, creating from scratch the metal-and-red-light denizens if Camazotz and the organically towering Aunt Beast, who, at first, looks like a Lovecraftian horror, but who grows on us as her gentility comes to the fore. The transition of the dowdy Mrs Whatsit into the smoothly elegant winged alien is also jaw-droppingly fun to witness. A combination of projections and quickly adapted shapes and objects and platforms and wagons makes all the scene transitions fly by as if they’re being tesseracted by the cast and crew.

And what a cast! Emma Jackson makes for a plucky and witty Meg, and she is most ably supported by veterans Marianne Fraulo, Kate Donadio, Andrew Crigler, Mark Cabus, and Lowrey Brown, all of whom create a marvelous array of characters regardless of age and gender and species.

But, in the final analysis, all the critters and creatures and phantasmagoria are merely props and hurdles in what is essentially the story of a young girl in quest to find her Daddy and to reunite her family. As fun as the Science Fiction trappings are, it’s the heart and soul of Meg Murry that provide the heart and soul of this play, and it’s the heart and soul of this ensemble and production team that makes it all work. Director Justin Anderson adds another “win” to his quickly-becoming-overwhelming list of successful stagings for young audiences.

Ms. L’Engle returned to the Murry and O’Keefe families many times throughout her career, never failing to create a tale that excited the imagination even as it warmed the heart. This is, in fact, a perfect play to watch with a daughter or a Daddy. And, in my humble opinion, it’s a lot more fun than shopping with Mommy.

-- Brad Rudy (



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