November 3, 2009

The Giver

"The Giver" is one of the first dystopian books I ever read. I was in junior high at the time and I remember being completely awed by this strange society, where everything seemed perfect at first, but the dark secrets of the community were quickly revealed. The book fascinated me and challenged my thinking, which is why I was filled with both excitement and apprehension when I found out "The Giver" was part of the Indiana Repertory Theatre's season this year. Anytime a book resonates with you it can be difficult to see that story brought to life on stage or film. There's always the fear that it won't be recreated quite like you imagined it and it will somehow mar the integrity of the story.

The IRT's version of "The Giver" did nothing but enhance my original feelings. It's an amazing production, condensed to an 80 minute show with no intermission. The set, costumes and acting all played their unique parts in capturing the menace of the sterile society that values "sameness" above all else. The story is told from the point of view of Jonas, a 12-year-old who has been selected to receive all of the memories of generations past from the "Giver."

The set and costumes are all created in shades of gray, because color has been eliminated from the community. In an effort to get rid of the bad elements that exists in any society, much of the good has been removed as well. If there are no lows, there will be no highs; no hate, but also no love. This is the conundrum the futuristic world faces. The clever use of color was expertly done; subtle touches of it slowly increase as Jonas' awareness increases.

The book has many logistical issues that the IRT surmounted with ease. They had to find a way to show memories of sledding, snow, sunshine, sailing, hunger, etc. They're creative solutions and the talented seven-person cast did an fantastic job, especially considering half the cast was 13-years-old or younger.

One of the highlights of any IRT show is the post-show discussion the cast occasionally holds. If one is offered at any show you attend I would highly recommend sticking around for it. Robert K. Johansen, who played Jonas' father, hosted one during my visit and hearing the thoughts and questions of both the cast and fellow audience members was a wonderful addition to experience.

Don't Miss the Show

Performances: The show runs until Saturday, Nov. 21 on IRT's Upperstage. Times for performances can be found at www.irtlive.com or by calling the IRT box office at (317) 635-5252.

Tickets: To purchase tickets call (317) 635-5252 or order online at www.irtlive.com Prices begin at $29 with discounts available for students.

The Indiana Repertory Theatre is located at 140 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, one-half block west of the Circle Center Mall between northbound Illinois Street and southbound Capitol Avenue.

Photo Courtesy of the Indiana Repertory Theatre

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This sounds wonderful! I remember reading the book, and thought a stage production would be amzing when I heard about IRT's! Thank you for your wonderful, detailed reviews!