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Review: The Miracle Worker at IRT

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Annie Sullivan (Nora Fiffer) tries to break through to Helen Keller (Ciarra Krohne) in 'The Miracle Worker' at the Indiana Repertory Theatre.
  • Annie Sullivan (Nora Fiffer) tries to break through to Helen Keller (Ciarra Krohne) in 'The Miracle Worker' at the Indiana Repertory Theatre.

William Gibson's story of the relationship between Helen Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan is standard curriculum; credit the Indiana Repertory Theater, then, for making an excellent case for why this testament to passionate teaching and the power of perseverance is still worth staging.

Director David Bradley, making effective use of Robert Koharchik's impressive, imposing, deliciously cinematic sets, has created a living world for this post-Civil War family dealing with a deaf, blind and mute child. Not a moment goes to waste as the large Southern mansion rotates to each new location. A consummate storyteller, Bradley makes use of every moment, keeping our attention even between scenes. His complex transitions become a kind of dance that mirrors the struggles of this Dixie household and are worth the price of admission on their own.

12-year-old Ciarra Krohne is delightfully wicked as the intelligent yet frustrated young Helen Keller, with a commitment to the role that would be impressive for an actor of any age.The show hinges on a dynamic rapport between Keller and her miracle worker, Annie Sullivan (Nora Fiffer), and the two actresses delivered, creating a rich yet distinctive bond on stage. Each member of the ensemble brings an incisive interpretation to the show, adding to the payoff from that one magical, miraculous moment. Through May 20 at Indiana Repertory Theatre.

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