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Translating a science fiction epic into a stage play takes a brave adapter. Producing that adaptation takes an even braver director, cast and crew. Michigan State University’s Department of Theatre has a history of being brave and director Ryan Patrick Welsh proves to be the bravest heart by taking on the sci-fi classic “A Wrinkle in Time.”
“Wrinkle” centers on misfit siblings Meg Murray (Anna Ryzenga) and Charles Wallace (Oliver Lyman) and their quest to find their missing physicist father. They are aided by three celestial beings who manifest as a trio of eccentric women. The group must triumph over the evil being IT, who has enslaved the planet Camazotz by stripping the inhabitants of free will, terrifying them into subservient uniformity.
The play is based on the children’s book written by Madeleine L’Engle in 1962. The story feels contemporary in its ability to combine the theme of love triumphing over evil with an action-adventure plot that appeals to all ages.
However, audiences who are familiar with the story will likely enjoy the play more. This is a complex story, with major plot points summarized in narrative provided by multiple readers who are sometimes drowned out by sound effects and music.
The adaptation tells the story with an ensemble cast who alternatively narrate from the original text and perform as the characters. The cast also works in unison to create larger creature-characters.
Grace Foiles’ costumes are fantastic, particularly for the celestial trio of Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which and Mrs. Whatsit. The latter of the trio, played by Claire Wilcher, stands out as a warm and wacky delight.
The production is bold and inventive.
Staging a story that sweeps across space and time in the tiny Arena Theatre pushed the production staff to the limits of creativity. It may not have the budget and bang of last year’s star-studded Hollywood production, but this version is infinitely more innovative and immersive.
“A Wrinkle in Time”
MSU Department of Theatre
Through March 24
7:30 p.m., Tuesday -Thursday
8 p.m., Friday & Saturday
2 p.m., Saturday & Sunday
General admission, $15; seniors, $13; students $10