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A Wrinkle in Time

At what point do we learn to be suspcious of other people’s differences and even to despise our own individuality? These are the questions explored in Madeleine L’Engle’s remarkable 1960 children’s classic, A Wrinkle in Time.

The book was rejected by dozens of publishers in the conformist 1950s, a time when a female protagonist in a children’s science fiction novel seemed out of place. (Remember, those were the same male publishers who rejected Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, confident that TV dinners and Birdseye vegetables reflected the priorities of American women and the American cuisine of the future.)

Now in their 40th year, Theatre of Youth has given a stage version of L’Engle’s story a smart and exquisitely staged outing, directed by Meg Quinn, with eye-popping visuals by video designer Brian Milbrand; and set, costume, and prop designer Kenneth Shaw. The script was adapted from the book by John Glore. An uncommonly talented child, Simon Blu Randle, plays idiosyncratic Charles Wallace (alternating in the role with adorable Owen McCoy); with Cassie Gorniewicz as our heroine, spunky misfit Meg Murry. Every moment is pleasure, as the cast explores corners of social paranoia that, in the time of Trayvon Martin, have sadly not disappeared into our social past.

The uniformly inventive and finely realized performances are offered by Linda Stein as Mother/ Mrs Who / Camazotz Woman; Bobby Cooke as Father/ Mrs Which/ Camazotz Man; Joyce Carolyn as Mrs Whatsit/ Red Eyes; and RJ Voltz as Calvin. Sound design by Chester Popiolkowski adds dimension, suspense and atmosphere.

This is a marvelous theatrical adventure for children and the adults in their lives. The ambitious production runs only through this weekend at the Allendale Theatre (203 Allen Street, 884-4400 x304).