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A Wrinkle in Time (Review)

Know's holiday show needs to iron out a few wrinkles

By Rick Pender · November 29th, 2010 · Onstage
Earlier this year John Glore’s adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time premiered at South Coast Rep, one of America’s most respected theaters for new plays. The 1962 novel about precocious kids has been popular for a long time (especially with, well, precocious kids), so there’s a built-in audience. That’s certainly why Know Theatre is staging it for the 2010 holidays.

L’Engle struggled to get her novel published. It’s a sci-fi adventure about kids zipping around the universe to rescue their dad, a scientist, from an omnipotent evil named “IT.” Publishers couldn’t decide whether the book was an adventure for kids or a fable about good overcoming evil for parents. (Guess they never read C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia; L’Engle’s book is clearly in that vein.)

I wish Know’s production of Wrinkle succeeded at blending these strands, but it doesn’t.

Staged by guest director Jason Ballweber, the show tries to be silly for kids and profound for adults. The result is a lot of noise and confusion. I suspect young kids who don’t know the story will be alternatively frightened or confused, and adults (unless they were charmed by the book) will be bored.

That’s not to say Know’s Wrinkle is lacking in creativity: Six actors play all the roles, several making quick costume changes from funny old ladies to mindless automatons or strange aliens. The show is inventively staged (designed by Andrew Hungerford) with draped white silk, creative lighting and four overhead projectors (remember them?) used for special effects. The cast provides weird vocal sound effects, too. Much of Glore’s adaptation and Ballweber’s staging are ingenious, but I don’t think they’re enough to engage audiences for 90 minutes (including intermission).

Good vanquishing evil is commendable, but this show has too many wrinkles to succeed as holiday entertainment.

A WRINKLE IN TIME, presented by Know Theatre of Cincinnati, continues through Dec. 26 (due to popular demand, 3 p.m. performances have been added Dec. 18 and 26). Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.



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