“Life, with its rules, its obligations, and its freedoms, is like a sonnet: You're given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself.” - Mrs. Whatsit, A Wrinkle in Time
Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time was originally published in 1962. The three kids in this science fiction novel travel across space and time, discovering new universes and finding themselves along the way. James Sie’s play adaptation captures the pure excitement of the story, and creates a road map for a company such as Lifeline Theatre to bring it to life.
A Wrinkle in Time at Lifeline Theatre
Directed by Lifeline Artistic Ensemble Member Elise Kauzlaric and adapted by James Sie from the novel by Madeline L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time follows Meg Murray (Jamie Cahill) as she travels across the universe to rescue her father, meeting magical characters who help her along the way, such as Mrs. Which (Carmen Molina), Mrs. Who (Javier Ferreira), and Mrs. Whatsit (Madeline Pell). Accompanied by Calvin O’Keefe (Glenn Obrero) and her younger brother Charles Wallace (Trent Davis), Meg must learn to conquer her fears of the unknown if she is going to face the dangers that lie ahead. While she has always despised her inability to fit in, it is that very unique nature that may just help her survive.
Sie’s adaptation beautifully captures both the youthful innocence and the exciting adventure of original novel. As someone who grew up with L’Engle’s book, I was captivated by the magical elements I remember from my childhood. A Wrinkle in Time features three kids with whom anyone can relate – each of them are trying to navigate that line between blending in and allowing themselves to stand out. The story acts as a coming of age story for Meg, as well as a science-fiction form of The Odyssey – the team must conquer the challenges of their journey in order to save Mr. Murray and make it home. The team at Lifeline brought the story to life in a lovely way – starting with the design.
Lifeline Theatre’s intimate space worked perfectly for this production, acting as a useful manner of drawing the audience into the magical world before us.
Helmed by Kauzlaric, the artistic team utilized a creative and abstract approach to the script’s challenge of jumping across different universes. Co-Scenic Designers Alan Donahue and Andrew Hildner created a beautiful set with many moving parts – allowing the actors to move pieces and build new worlds as they traveled. This process was aided by a collaboration with Lighting Designer Kevin D. Gawley and Original Music and Sound Designer Eric Backus.
A prime example is when Meg, Calvin and Charles Wallace visit The Happy Medium (Marsha Harman), who through her crystal ball, is able to show them the Milky Way Galaxy. The lights immediately change, and a projection of stars and planets spread throughout the theater, carrying the audience with kids in their journey to this new sight.
Aesthetically the design is gorgeous; however, in addition, the choice also acts as a lovely way of bringing the child-like innocence within the story to the surface. A Wrinkle in Time is about three kids discovering a new world, and we are able to watch that world build up around them as they travel. This added an exciting element to the production I was eager to watch unfold.
Creative Use of Strong Ensemble
In addition to the design elements, Kauzlaric utilized the ensemble of actors to help carry the story from moment to moment. For example, when the kids moved into a different universe, the ensemble, dressed in black, would gather and lift the kids, bringing them to various areas of the stage. Dressed in black, the ensemble enhanced the mysterious feel of the stage.
In the end, Kauzlaric created a strong ensemble piece. The main trio consisted of some strong actors with whom I sympathized. I wanted to see Cahill’s Meg succeed not only in finding her father, but also in finding herself, and coming to terms with her own special gifts. Obrero commanded the stage with his curious and brave Calvin, and Davis created a nice compliment with his innocent and inquisitive Charles Wallace.
However, this play would be nowhere without the ensemble as a whole. The clear chemistry they shared in their movement added to the piece, and truly contributed to bringing this story to life.
All in all, Lifeline’s A Wrinkle in Time makes for a night of fun for all ages.
Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO. Click here to read — Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves
Note: An excerpt of this review appears in Theatre in Chicago.
Through April 23, 2017
Thursdays at 7:30pm
Fridays at 7:30pm
Saturdays at 4:00pm
Saturdays at 8:00pm
Sundays at 4:00pm
Run Time: 2 hours, with intermission
Lifeline Theatre Company
6912 N Glenwood Avenue
About the Author:
Lauren Katz is a freelance director and dramaturge, and new to the Chicago Theatre Scene. She recently moved from Washington DC, where she worked with Mosaic Theater Company of DC in Company Management, as well as directed around town with various theaters.