THE GIVER

So I went and saw a production of Lois Lowry's The Giver last night at the Denver Center Theatre Company, and I am so glad I did. This is a fantastic production, from top to bottom. Story, direction, acting, design- it's damn near flawless.



The story is your classic Sci-Fi, in the vein of such cautionary classics as Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card, and The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guinn. In the story, set in the distant future, the world has become very safe,  very easy-going, and a little bit creepy. There are no colors in this world, no hard decisions to be made- nothing that could possibly cause strife. Not even music exists. Everything you do- including what family you live with and what career you follow- is pretty much chosen for you by a set of rules made long ago, and that's the way it is. What is supposed to be Utopian turns out, of course, to be Dystopian. The story follows a young boy named Jonas, who is chosen for a very rare, special job in this strange world. He is going to be a Receiver of Memory, which means he will be the receptacle for his world's memories. He learns this at the age of 12. He is to be trained by the current Receiver, and it is this training that drives the story. For more on the plot, go here.

The play, adapted from the novel by Eric Coble and expertly directed by Christy Montour-Larson, opens with style, and never lets up. It is both funny and sad, terrifying and uplifting- no mean feat. The world of the play is instantly set as this strange variation on The Stepford Wives. The first people we meet are Jonas' overly polite, creepy family. There's Father-played so sweetly by Timothy McCracken that when you find out the truth of what Father does for a job, it's very powerful and quite disturbing. Father is married to Mother, an ice-queen who exudes a kind of danger as played by Diana Dresser, and they have three children- Lily, played by Aliza Fassett with great aplomb the night I saw the production, a new baby assigned to them by the powers that be named Gabriel, and Jonas- the hero of the story, played with earnestness and strength by Jackson Garske (all the young people's roles are played by two rotating casts- if the night I saw the show is any indication of the level of talent, I am sure both groups of young actors are outstanding). One other stand out in a cast of stand outs is Philip Pleasants as the Giver- here is a great, performance by an actor who naturally carries gravitas and wit.

Technically, the show is a wonder, with sets and lights and sound that are truly amazing. There is one section that uses projection that really made me think I was looking at a ghost of a young girl.

I need to run, so let me just say this show is fantastic, and you should see it.

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