Tuesday, January 11, 2011

THE GIVER • Metro Theater Company

Soon to be 12 year old Jonas lives in a drab gray world.  Literally.  Everyone is mechanically polite, eerily agreeable, and although nobody seems to experience any pain, they don't seem to genuinely experience pleasure, either.  Utopian society anyone?  Actually, the environment in this provocative play is more dystopian than anything else.  Dystopian…  Cool word, right?  I learned it reading online about the book…

Anyhoo, THE GIVER, originally an award winning sci-fi book for young readers written by Lois Lowry and adapted for the stage by Eric Coble, is what's on offer at Metro Theater Company.

Jonas (Christian Probst & Mitchell List) along with his friends Fiona (Berklea Going & Anna Nielsen) and Asher (Ian Miller & Elijah Brown), are looking forward to "the ceremony" where "the twelves" get their assignments.  When kids turn twelve, they are given these jobs -- jobs they must carry out for the rest of their lives.  Jonas is assigned "Receiver of Memory".  This responsibility means that he will be the reservoir for the community's memories of things past -- before their society was converted to "sameness".  These memories are transmitted to Jonas by "The Giver" (Nicholas Kryah).  Everything from the memories of color, war and grandparents to music, pain and love must be handed over to their new keeper.  The play gets darker when Jonas learns about the more sinister goings on -- like how those who are deemed not acceptable are "released".  You can just imagine what that's about.  It's a well-trod concept, but one that I enjoyed here.

Nick Kryah (The Giver) and Mitchell List (Jonas).
Photo credit: Suzy Gorman
It gets a great treatment under Carol North's direction and her cast of talented young actors.  The kid's roles are cast with alternates and the day I saw it, Mitchell List did a wonderful job as Jonas.  The cast, kids and adults, was good, particularly Nicholas Kryah as "The Giver".  The set was simple and reflected the dreariness of this slightly spooky world, except for when things are slowly learned by Jonas, and the set pops with pockets of color that nicely compliment the plot.  Beckah Reed's choreography was very thoughtful and the sound (Rusty Wandall and guest artist, Lance Garger) did such an amazing job stepping in -- accentuating the things that couldn't be physically shown, that there were times when I looked forward to what I was going to hear next.

Take your kids to this show!  Take 'em to a show -- indoors…  You know what I'm saying…
I bet they'll walk out thinking about it, and you can't beat that.

Christian Probst (Jonas) and Nick Kryah (The Giver).
Photo credit: Suzy Gorman

Written by Eric Coble
Directed by Carol North 
Edison Theatre, 6445 Forsyth Blvd. 
through January 23 | tickets: $12 - $16
Performances Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm, Sundays at 2pm

Nicholas Kryah (The Giver), Stephanie Strohman (Mother), David Wassilak (Father), Christian Probst & Mitchell List (Jonas), Ian Miller & Elijah Brown (Asher), Berklea Going & Anna Nielsen (Fiona), Sarah Koo & Sydney Dorton (Lily) and Lance Garger (Guest artist).

Scenic design by Dunsi Dai; costume design by Lou Bird; lighting design by John Wylie; sound design by Rusty Wandall; choreography by Beckah Reed.

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