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BWW Reviews: Ray Bradbury Charms With WISDOM 2116

Ray Bradbury's Wisdom 2116/ conceived, directed & choreographed by Steve Josephson/ Fremont Centre Theatre/ through February 27.

A Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters (France's highest literary honor) since 2007, Ray Bradbury is perhaps the best living short story writer. He has also written novels, plays and musicals. In fact, some 55 years ago, in honor of his dear friends actors Charles Laughton and wife Elsa Lanchester, he penned the sci-fi piece, now titled, Wisdom 2116 for them to perform on stage. But both passed away before having the opportunity to mount it. Now resurrected after all these years, it echoes a sweetness unlike any other and because of a richly talented creative team Wisdom 2116 becomes the most endearing, artful entry into Bradbury's theatrical collection. Not all of his stories play well as theatre; this one assuredly does.

The message is clear and simple. A couple married for over 40 years cannot bear to think of the loneliness that will ensue after a partner's death. One Christmas, they decide on most unusual but loving gifts. Each, without the other's knowledge, commissions the village Marionette maker to fashion a youthful Robotic machine that will serve the function of a husband/wife. Alas, the overly energetic and over-zealous young do not make a perfect match for the old, and when they meet they quickly realize the disastrous consequences that will come of living together. The older couple accept their folly and out of complete love for one another resolve to make the most of the time that remains to them both.

In this musical version, Bradbury has fashioned the lyrics from his poetic words and John Hoke has created a hauntingly beautiful score to envelop them. The evening is more performance piece than play, like a lovely European cirque or ballet. Emerging from a trunk, six dancers, along with the main characters, proceed to entrance us with their harmonious moves. Director Josephson, David Stoneman, Rob Harryman, Lisa Morrice, Jessie McLean, Andrew Ruesch, Anthony Scarano, Sarah Mann, Christine Reese, Shanti Harter, Samantha Marcella, and Monica Thibodeaux blend magically together.

Lighting design by Stuart A. Fabel, set by J. W. Layne, costumes by Sarah Schuessler add lush touches and enhance the richness of Bradbury's message. We feel it all the more.

The perfect Valentine's Day evening or anytime. Bring someoNe You love!

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