Regional Reviews: Raleigh/Durham
A Wrinkle in Time
Also see Garrett's review of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Oklahoma!
Winner of several literary awards, including the Newberry Medal, the novel follows Meg Murry (an engaging Omolade Wey), her brother Charles Wallace (portrayed convincingly by Ethan Haberfield in his PlayMakers debut), and their friend Calvin O'Keefe (an effective Jamar Jones) as they journey through time and space to rescue Meg and Charles Wallace's father (PlayMakers stalwart Jeffrey Blair Cornell). Three eccentric women guide them along the way: Mrs. Whatsit (brought wonderfully to life by Kathryn Hunter-Williams); Mrs. Who (a delightful Ann Arvia in her PlayMakers debut); and Mrs. Which (a lovely Sanjana Taskar). These women can travel by means of a tesseract (a "wrinkle in time and space") which their father Mr. Murry had been trying to understand when he disappeared. The children travel on these wrinkles to various planets and discover that the universe is under attack by an evil simply known as "the Black Thing." It will fall to young Meg to overpower this evil and bring everyone home.
Mrs. L'Engle's "A Wrinkle in Time" might have been set today, with its themes of time travel and intergalactic adventure; it has many noteworthy successors like Harry Potter and the Marvel Universe. But in 1962, these themes were not commonplace in children's literature–nor were books about a female central character with intelligence and agency. Artistic Director Vivienne Benesch has observed that Meg Murry paved the way for Katniss Everdeen in the "Hunger Games" trilogy and Tracy Deon in Bree Matthews' novel "Legendborn."
In her PlayMakers debut as director, Shelley Butler brings A Wrinkle in Time to life with style and creativity, making it feel well-suited to be a PlayMakers production. Sarah Ryung Clement's scenic design is simple yet effective in its representation of everything from a kitchen to the cosmos. Costume design by Anne Kennedy brilliantly uses color to evoke the individuality of some characters (particularly Mrs. Whatsit) and the lack of individuality in others (as with the citizens of the planet Camazotz which has been taken over by the evil blackness). The creative puppetry of Torry Bend brings a few more characters lovingly to life. Karen Spahn's lighting and Kate Marvin's sound create many places and moods, transforming the single set stage over and over again.
There is no better time than now to bring A Wrinkle in Time to the stage. L'Engle's standard inscription when signing copies of her book was "Tesser Well." As Sarah Arthur wrote in her biography of Madeleine L'Engle, "With each hourly headline, we find ourselves thrust into what feels like entirely strange planets We fail to love. But in all this, Madeline's legacy isn't merely something to remember with a sigh of nostalgia: it's a call." As we move through the space we call Earth, may we heed her call and let love guide us in defeating any and every darkness that threatens to envelope us.
A Wrinkle in Time, presented by PlayMakers Repertory Company, runs through April 17, 2022, at the Paul Green Theatre, UNC's Center for Dramatic Art, 150 Country Club Road, Chapel Hill NC. For tickets and information, please visit www.playmakersrep.org or call 919-962-7529.
Based on the book by: Madeleine L'Engle
Cast (in alphabetical order):
Fortinbras/Ensemble: Sergio Mauritz Ang