A Wrinkle in Time Full of Stage Magic at Theatre in the Round

Production Photo

A Wrinkle in Time is an American Newbery Award winning young adult novel published in 1962 by Madeleine L’Engle. Cherished by many, not me, but many. I’m not saying it’s not a good book, I’m saying I haven’t read it, and honestly now I wish I had. A little research has informed me that there are actually 5 books in the series that make up the Time Quintet. A Wrinkle in Time tells the story of Meg Murray, her younger brother Charles Wallace and their new friend Calvin O’Keefe who are sent on an adventure through time and space to rescue the Murray children’s father. The story takes us to several different planets where the trio will encounter strange beings and a powerful darkness known as It. Their guides on the journey are the three Mrs. W’s: Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which, who it is suggested by a line of dialogue could perhaps be the three Witches from Macbeth. 

Highly recommended for fans of the book or those who have seen one of the two screen adaptations

The Director Penelope Parsons-Lord has chosen to produce the show using only practical effects so there are no projections or recordings used. For the most part this approach works and in fact is one of the charms of the production. There are a few aspects of the story for those of us not familiar with it that are a little hard to follow. When they reach the planet Camazotz where Mr. Murray is imprisoned, much of what occurs there is hard to follow in the literal sense, though you get a general understanding of what happens overall. I mention this because the play is appropriate for younger audiences say Ten and up, but those unfamiliar with the story might get lost during this section. In terms of the production design I enjoyed the fairly barebones approach; I always like what I call stage magic. It really is a combined effort to create the illusions used to illustrate the fantastical elements of the story. Lighting Designer Mark Kieffer makes excellent use of Black Light technology for the interplanetary traveling sequences. The team behind the characters’ looks: Co-Costume Designers Krista Weiss and Penelope Parsons-Lord, Makeup/Hair Designer Robin Gilmer, and Puppet Designer Elliot Van Winkle create some very distinct images and creatures very simplistically.

The three leads are all relatively new to me; Ryan Pierce as Charles Wallace, Harriet Spencer as Meg, and Tic Treitler as Calvin. Pierce has it the toughest, being the biggest of the three but playing the youngest (six years old in the book), it’s an uphill battle, but I’m not sure most child actors would be able handle some elements as when the character is possessed by the spirit of It. Spencer and Treitler have an easier time suspending our disbelief, as they are playing 13 and 14 year olds. They also somehow create a romantic connection between the two characters that you can sense but I’m not sure is explicit in the script; in my research I find it foreshadows their relationship in the later books. My favorite performances were those of the Mrs. W’s played by Shelley Nelson, Robin Gilmer, and Ariel Pinkerton. Nelson’s portrayal of the quirky Mrs. Whatsit who is the quirkiest of the three is especially fun. 

Highly recommended for fans of the book or those who have seen one of the two screen adaptations. I think foreknowledge of the plot is a great help in following certain elements of the plot. The story is full of ideas, themes, and concepts that I think an audience not struggling to follow the plot will focus in on more completely. A Wrinkle in Time runs through July 14th at Theatre in the Round Players for more information and to purchase tickets go to https://www.theatreintheround.org/home/season-placeholder/72nd-season/wrinkle/

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Photo credit: Aaron Mark Photo Film 

Headshot of Rob Dunkelberger
Rob Dunkelberger

Rob is a member of the Twin Cities Theater Bloggers and their podcast Twin Cities Theater Chat as well as a syndicating contributor to Minnesota Playlist. Read all his content www.thestagesofmn.com