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Ashland Review: A Wrinkle In Time

Oregon Shakespeare Festival


by Dorothy Velasco

for broadcast on KLCC July 8, 2014

“A Wrinkle in Time,” Madeleine L’Engle’s beloved book published in 1962, has been adapted for screen, stage and even opera. Now you can see a new adaptation at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Bowmer Theatre, and delight in the creativity of the stagecraft.

As adapted and directed by Tracy Young, “Wrinkle” is a family entertainment in which three kids combat evil forces not with physical prowess but with their brains. Yes, kids, it’s all right to be smart. It’s all right to look geeky, read minds and love math.

It’s a busy play, sometimes too scattered, with actors periodically pacing about and reading from the book, and the addition of a young girl presenting a science fair project to supply us with scientific information.

At the center of the action are 14-year-old Meg, sporting glasses, braces and fuzzy hair, and her five-year-old savant brother, Charles Wallace. Joining them in their quest to rescue their father, a government scientist missing for a year, is Calvin, a high school basketball star who hides his own mental talents to seem normal.

They are aided in their search by three supernatural women led by eccentric Mrs. Whatsit, who tells them their father is being held by an evil force on the planet Camazotz.

The ladies agree to transport the kids through time and space. It’s scary and difficult, but they take layovers at a friendly planet where they get help from Aunt Beast, a warm, sightless creature with soothing tentacles. We previously meet the same actor, Daniel Parker, as a blind man reading the book in Braille.

Since the play takes place during the Cold War, democracy is seen as good and creative, and socialism as dark and evil, a force that imposes conformity.

Meg and her family are far from conformists. Alejandra Escalante is a joy as the troubled and troublesome girl. Whether she grows up to be a beauty like her scientist mother, played by Kate Hurster, is of no concern.

Sara Bruner is direct and sincere as Charles Wallace — no little kid cuteness here, thank goodness — and Joe Wegner is sweet and dependable as Calvin. Clearly he’s falling for geeky Meg when he tells her, “Your braces really sparkle in the moonlight!”

Christopher Acebo, the Festival’s inventive scenic designer, gives us artfully projected visions of other planets on a screen shaped like a house. At times the combination of action, lighting and evolving scenery succeeds in making the whole stage seem to tilt.

If you haven’t read “A Wrinkle in Time” in a few decades, the book is worth rediscovering to reinforce ideas that might slip by quickly in the play.

This is Dorothy Velasco with KLCC’s Ashland Review.

Dorothy Velasco has reviewed productions at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for KLCC since 1985.
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