Thursday, March 29, 2012

Review of Adventure Stage Chicago's The Giver

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Giver. The Giver is about this boy named Jonas who lives in this strange community in the future. It is a completely black and white world. Everything is very uncolorful colors and black and white. And I mean that metaphorically and literally. The metaphorically part is that you obey the rules which is the white or you get "released" which is the black. The scary stuff almost always jumps out at you, like "Oh, I didn't know that was going to happen" or "I didn't know this person would get hurt." If you have read the book, it won't be as jumping out at you, because you'll know everything that is going to happen. It was basically the book; it was a very good adaptation. It used all the subjects that were in the book and they didn't really add anything that was not at all like the book. Because there are so many exciting things in the actual book, they didn't need to add anything.

The set was really awesome. Jessica Kuehnau Wardell's set was like the actual world in the book. The actual world is completely black and white; it is very clean. It is not that scary at first; you just think it is a nice community. She made me feel like I was in another place even though this happens in the future and we are in reality in the present. The Giver's house was basically a bed and a chair and lots of books--that's what it is in the book too. At all the other houses they only have books on boring things because all the things that they have are all about the rules. If the community could read those books, they could have their own free little life, and they could make their own decisions. They would enable that because then they could get their own books that are actually interesting. When you read exciting adventure tales and stuff, they make you want to do the things that the people in the books actually do.

There were four people in the family: Jonas (Aaron Lawson), the Mother (Sarah Rose Graber), the Father (Carlos Rogelio Diaz), and Lily (Sindy Castro). And there was Gabriel, who was not exactly part of the family but became part of the family. Gabriel was a small little puppet that you could just move around his arms and stuff; he was more just a wooden guy and you could just control him. All the family got to play Gabriel, but Landree Fleming did the voice from behind the set. They chose to have a puppet because it is pretty hard to get an actual baby to do the part, or a doll. They had a puppet so they could actually control what it was doing.

I thought Sindy Castro was a good choice for Lily. She did a good job playing a young kid. She skipped a lot, and I skip a lot too. That is something that lots of kids do: they skip. She made her voice sound very young by speeding it up because kids are always saying stuff very fast. The Mother, I thought she did a good job of playing somebody that thought very seriously about the rules. She kept giving Jonas his medicine for the stirrings, which means he is starting to hit puberty and think about romance, and nobody wants that to happen. They make families by somebody choosing a mate for you and the babies are chosen at a ceremony and they are given to their new parents. Nobody can ever have romance with anybody that they like. Without romance they wouldn't have a true love, like they could never be in love with the people they wanted to love. The Father I think is a little confusing because you are always thinking, "why would he want to release Gabriel if he loves him so much?" The character is supposed to be a little confusing. I think the actor made his character just the right amount of confusing.

Fiona (Landree Fleming) is one of Jonas's best friends. Landree Fleming I thought had a good ear for what kind of person Fiona was. She was a very sweet person, and she thought about her friends first. But there was something a little scary about her. The scary thing was that she was learning the "fine" art of releasing, which is actually not fine at all. Fiona is not mean at all; she is just learning something mean. You like Fiona and all; she might be one of your favorite characters. I like her too. But teaching somebody who is a nice person to harm another nice person is just disturbing. It shows you that they are trying to make the perfect community, but then they don't make a good community that is good enough to everybody who lives there.

Kroydell Galima played Asher, and Asher is another of Jonas's best friends. I thought he knew what kind of story they were telling. I mean that the actor knew what kind of community it was, what relationship he had with the community. The character does not know about the releasing and how bad it is. Asher is a weird person; they say that Asher is somebody who doesn't obey every single rule because he is a weirdo. Like when he said, when he was only 4 years old, he said, "I want my smack," instead of "I want my snack," so he got his smack, which was a whipping. He thinks it was kind of funny, which is weird because he himself was the one getting hurt. And nobody thinks that they themselves getting hurt is funny; well, except for Asher. That makes him 1 in 6 million 3 thousand. I thought, "Yikes! I feel uncomfortable right here" when he is laughing about himself getting hurt. Just for grammar difficulty, they hurt him!

I thought John Ruhaak's impression of The Giver was believable. I saw The Giver reading the books, and I thought right away, "Oh, that's The Giver" because he looks like people would imagine The Giver looking like: a middle-aged man in an old-timey and different-style cape than everybody else's clothes. He is a good person but sometimes he can be very strict. The Giver loves Jonas, but his parents don't really love him, and they don't really love Lily either because they are not exactly real people. They are basically Frankenstein's monsters because the community is crooked and makes love weird. Like the monster's love for his father is just crazy. Everybody believes that The Giver loves Jonas in a way that nobody ever loved him.

Aaron Lawson I thought showed the way that Jonas would behave about the community. I thought when he was receiving the memories he would look like he was experiencing what The Giver was giving to him, and he did what it is like in the book. In some of the memories he looked scared and hurting. And in other memories he looked happy and like he was enjoying himself. I think I am most like Jonas because he wants to help his friends and other people by saving them from the control of the community. Memories are basically how he knows The Giver and how he is going to be The Giver. He is going to be The Giver for thousands and thousands of people.

The first thing that happens in the book and the play is a plane going overhead. They did a good job acting out a plane and people being scared about the plane and thinking about them being attacked. You think that this is going to be a scary story when the plane goes overhead, like there will be a fire and everything. But it is scary in a completely different way. It is not scary in the way of lots of fire and lots of scary monsters coming and trying to kill people. The play was disturbing in a different way. It is more about not like war but like destroying themselves.

People that would like this show are people who like memories, mystery, and using their imagination. I think this show should be for ages 6 and up. People should go see this play because it is a good adaptation of a good but scary story. It teaches you that if you are trying to make something perfect, you can't make it perfect, and you shouldn't try to make it perfect or you will end up doing bad things that you think are good.

Photos: Johnny Knight

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