"The Giver" (Adventure Stage Chicago): Unforgettable Memories

"The Giver" (Adventure Stage Chicago):  Unforgettable Memories


#67. Choice.  Every choice I’ve made has brought me to today.  Career, relationship, residential, financial, spiritual, a million little choices influence every realm of my existence.  The big and small decisions assert influence into my destiny.  If my ability to choose was no longer in my control, it would be scary.  But thinking about growing up in a controlled environment where every decision was made for me AND I didn’t know I should want something different is deeply disturbing.

Adventure Stage Chicago presents the stage adaptation of Lois Lowry’s Newbery Medal Winner THE GIVER.  Jonas lives in a utopia.  There is no pain, no hunger, no turmoil.  There is also no color, no birthdays, no love.  There is only *sameness.*  At age 12, a rite of passage selects a youth’s career path.  Jonas is bestowed the honor of becoming the *receiver of memories.*  Before everything in his community was stagnant and tranquil, it was all different and unpredictable.  Jonas will take over the burden of remembering war, famine, and destruction.  He will receive this knowledge from The Giver, the former receiver of memories.  His understanding of the past will allow him to serve as a resource to the elders in making decisions for the future.  As Jonas gains memories, he realizes he is living in a dystopia.  He becomes determined to change the balance of life.  THE GIVER is a provocative world of what if.

Award-winning author Lois Lowry penned a thought-provoking children’s book.  Lowry has a world where people are *released* if they cry in the nursery, goof up at work, or get too old. ‘Released‘ = ‘killed.’  And more disturbing, no one is upset about it. In fact, they cheerfully go about their assigned tasks. Wow! This subject matter seems too heavy for young people.  But in a “Hunger Games” era, this is the kind of stuff impacting the next generation of decisionmakers.   Playwright Eric Coble skillfully adapts Lowry’s story to stage.  Under the steadfast direction of Brian Bell, this new and imperfect world takes shape.  Rituals and repetitive gestures build a structure of understanding of the daily operations.  In the lead, Aaron Lawson (Jonas) has a powerful awakening on stage.  The audience experiences with Lawson the ecstasy and agony of snow.  An expressive Lawson delivers a colorful memory.  His teacher-student relationship with John Ruhaak (The Giver) endears in a the-receiver-now-becomes-the-giver charm.  A resigned and wise Ruhaak protectively rallies as his prodigy struggles with knowledge.

THE GIVER disturbs!  The ideals of this world continue to linger in my head.  A world without love.  A world without choice.  It’s not black and white.  It’s gray.  And it’s disconcerting.  Seeing this show as a family will certainly stimulate dinner conversation.  THE GIVER places a memory in my mind not easily forgettable.

SIDENOTE:  At the performance I saw, there were Spanish projected titles.  In addition, the cast had a talk-back with the audience.

Running Time:  105 minutes includes a 15 minute delayed start with no intermission

At Vittum Theatre, 1012 N. Noble

Written by Lois Lowry

Adapted to stage by Eric Coble

Directed by Brian Bell

Fridays at 7:30

Saturdays at 4pm and 7:30pm

April 3, 5, 10, 12, 17, 19, 24, 25, 26 at 10:30am

Buy Tickets at www.adventurestage.com

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