Friday, May 2, 2014

Re-telling "A Wrinkle in Time"

Tracy Young's adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time, playing at OSF through November 1st, is a beautiful re-telling of a beautiful story about learning to live and let live and love.
Alejandra Escalante

Young, who also directs, is credited in the Playbill as an adaptor, but this play is really a staging of L'Engle's original text, abridged. This devotion to text, already a hallmark of OSF's work, brings L'Engle's classic tale of embracing your flaws and allowing yourself to love directly from the private pages of a book to the public space of the Angus Bowmer theater.

Meg Murry (Alejandra Escalante) is swept away from her suburban home with her genius little brother Charles Wallace (Sara Bruner) and friend Calvin O'Keefe (Joe Wegner) by the three Mrs. Ws (Judith-Marie Bergan, K.T. Vogt on opening night, and an unaccredited actress as Mrs. Which) to save her father (Dan Donohue). The children learn from the Happy Medium (Kate Mulligan) that all good things in the universe are at war with the Black Thing, a heavy evil presence. Some of the best fighters in this war have come from our insignificant planet - Jesus, Crazy Horse, etc. The Mrs. Ws tesser the children through space-time to the planet Camazotz where Mr. Murry is being held captive by IT, a malevolent intelligence through whose influence the entire planet has succumbed to the Black Thing. In order to defeat IT and save her family, Meg has to embrace her flaws - particularly difficult for an awkward adolescent girl - and to discover the thing that "she's got that IT hasn't got."

At its core, that's just what L'Engle's story is - an adolescent girl learning to accept herself for who she is. L'Engle and, by staging her text, OSF invest us in Meg's journey by establishing a binary moral code. This isn't hard for the audience to accept - we're brought up on binary moralities, whether they be God versus Satan or American freedom versus foreign oppression. In L'Engle's story, the Mrs. Ws are the standard bearers for Good, and teach Meg to accept herself as an individual. IT, whose modus operandi is to subvert the wills of others to ITs own, bears the standard for Evil. This simple devise is the key to A Wrinkle in Time's longevity and continued appeal - it encourages us, especially the young adults among us who need it the most, to simply be ourselves and to encourage those we care for to be themselves.

A Wrinkle in Time is a joy to read and a joy to see on the Angus Bowmer stage. People of all ages need stories that encourage them to love themselves. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is deeply invested in English and American theater classics, and A Wrinkle in Time is a welcome addition to the OSF canon.

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