Review: Kelsey's Chrysalids a hopeful map to evolving past bigotry, violence

David (Patrick Dixon) is beaten by his father, Joseph (Austin Frykas) during a grilling by village cops in Frances Kelsey High
David (Patrick Dixon) is beaten by his father, Joseph (Austin Frykas) during a grilling by village cops in Frances Kelsey High's sci-fi drama The Chrysalids.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland

Evolving past bigotry and violence was Frances Kelsey's dramatic gift of hope wrapped in The Chrysalids.

Teacher Anna Roberts' stripped version of John Wyndham's sci-fi novel saw her actors creatively project messages of acceptance, love and peace twinned by those of Christmas' wishes.

Given time and budgetary constraints, Kelsey's Chrysalids was a shining Noel star during Thursday's opener.

Central to this penetrating play — devoid of sets — occurring in a post-apocalyptic world is Patrick Dixon's turn as turbulent David, who realized his abusive, preacher-father, Joseph (Austin Frykas), is sadly misdirected in his disgust for fringe-dwelling folks who've also survived an unexplained holocaust.

While some outcasts — such as David's friend Sophie (Priyanca Tatachari) — have sprouted abnormalities such as extra toes, or some telepathic powers gained by David's sister, Petra (Richelle Walsh), they've transcended greed and discrimination to form a loving, sharing society in the forest.

That's where David, and some other like-minded townsfolk from oppressive Waknuk village, escape to dodge a twisted religious world led by Joseph and gestapo-like enforcers.

Kelsey's actors clearly got Wyndham's notions of humanity reaching an understanding, organic world of free expression, beyond hate and misguided religious principles.

The tattered map to that more idyllic world was handed to David by his wise, worldly uncle Axel (Ashton Arden), Chrysalids catalyst. These are type of people we need to find and listen to more, Kelsey's timely play tells us.

Indeed, Axel personifies the brave stand of those seeking ways out of humanity's swamp of repeated, tired cycles of killing and destroying, to appease ego and power.

Actors made good use of simple props, lighting, choreography and emotion to transmit the insanity of persecuting refugees, Jewish folks, immigrants, and even hippies, who are rejected by those whose ignorance is tied up in fear.

Despite some low vocal volume, Chrysalids effectively told us to dream, answer questions, and question answers from those in authority.

The Chrysalids ends with its Saturday, Dec. 8 run at 7 p.m. in the Kelsey Theatre.

Science-fiction play rating: 8 bigots out of 10.

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