Reviewed by Kathleen Kirby
Flint Youth Theatre opened a magical, exciting and even a bit scary production Saturday evening of the Madeleine L’Engle classic tale as adapted by Tracy Young, A Wrinkle in Time. Staged in the cozy Elgood Theatre, the audience was brought in close to this story of cosmic travel, ominous black clouds, and bravely intelligent children to the rescue.
Briefly, A Wrinkle in Time is the story of a young girl who, along with her younger brother and her friend, is transported on an adventure through time and space to rescue her father, a gifted scientist, from the evil forces that hold him prisoner on another planet.
We knew we were in for a “sky” story the minute we entered the theatre. The entire multi-level set is painted a sort of sky blue and lit by stars. It is a striking first impression. Indeed, lights and sound play a huge role in the passage of time and place effects. The rain is especially effective.
We love it when kids are cast as kids and FYT is terrific at this. Leading the action here is Paige Benner as the smart but awkward, unpopular and defensive middle-schooler, Meg Murry. She will nevertheless step up to hero status before the play is done.
Meg’s younger brother, Charles Wallace Murry is played amazingly by young Haedyn Scott. He brings this slightly odd but highly intelligent, probably autistic, child to life quite nicely. His devotion to his sister (he reads her mind) and the family will find him tested mightily as well. We did wish he would speak louder though, as much of what he had to say was swallowed up by some sound effects and a lack of vocal projection.
Rounding out the trio of time travelling kids is Calvin O’Keefe, a boy from a very large family with an overburdened mother. He is looking for someplace more joyful than his own home. Syd Brown plays this character with a nice mix of hesitancy and confidence as they set out to traverse time and space together.
They don’t do it on their own of course. Charles Wallace introduces them to three immortal characters living in a haunted house in the woods. Mrs. Whatsit (Amy Dolan-Malaney) is a sweet woman dressed in layers of multicolored fabrics. She is kind to the children and even flies them on her back in a most amazing and technically splendid scene.
Brittany Reed is Mrs. Who, a bespectacled woman fluent in dozens of languages and given to communicating in quotes. Mrs. Whatsit explains that Mrs. Who is not so comfortable using her own words. But her glasses nearly save the day!
Rounding out this trio of spirits is Mrs. Which played by Kristina Riegle who also plays Meg’s mother. Mrs. Which is perhaps the most ethereal of the three with her witch hat and glowing orb.
These three spirits invoke the tesseract, a way of folding time and allowing them to travel quickly through space and the cosmos. This visual effect is quite amazing and the players react to it perfectly as they seek to rescue Meg’s father from imprisonment on Camazotz.
Others worthy of mention include Bret Beaudry as Meg’s imprisoned dad, Dekotah James Myers for his terrific enactment of Fortinbras, the dog, Sarah Jarrett as the loveable Aunt Beast, and those two adorable twins, Lucas and William Eldredge.
We won’t spoil the outcome for you but we will say that this production’s technical team is to be commended. Lights, sound, and visual effects literally change the set from one planet and one place to another.
Kudos must also go to director Michael Lluberes. The staging features a lot of movement as it cleverly provides a constant reminder that we are reading a book as the story unfolds before us.
A Wrinkle in Time runs just over 90 minutes and continues at Flint Youth Theatre’s Elgood Theatre through October 22. For more information and tickets contact the box office at 810-237-7333 or online at theFYT.org