Theatre Review: The Giver at the IRT

The Giver, adapted from the Young Adult novel by Lois Lowry by Eric Coble, is currently playing at the Indiana Repertory Theatre’s Upperstage through Feb. 21. The story takes place in a near-future in a highly structured society designed to create a conflict-free world, at the expense of individual emotional freedom. Twelve-year-old Jonas (Grayson Molin) is on the verge of his “Twelves,” when his future is selected for him by the Elders in the community. While his friends are given other paths from his, he is selected to be the Receiver of Memories, the individual who carries the memories of society. He learns how to collect these memories from “The Giver” (David Alan Anderson), and is in turn overjoyed to experience the joys of the collective, and shocked at the truths the memories expose. Jonas comes to the realization that sameness and conformity are just as destructive as conflict, and chooses a path out of it. The ending is ambiguous, leaving the audience with the question “does he make it?” unsolved.
Good performances by the younger cast members Joseph Hock, Lola Kennedy, and Jordan Pecar bring the dystopia to life. Bill Simmons as the Father is suitably friendly but distant from his “children” (Jonas is not his biological child), and Katie deBuys as the Mother and Chief Elder is gently persuasive. Anderson as the Giver puts in his usual emotionally powerful performance as the mysterious, semi-magical Anderson — Anderson has been a stand-out in several recent IRT productions, including The Mountaintop, and The Whipping Man.
With a spartan set that includes 228 drawers and little else, the scenic designer Robert Mark Morgan cleverly expands a small area to fit the big themes of The Giver. Added to superb lighting by Betsy Cooprider-Bernstein and sound design by Tom Horan, the entire production is tightly knit and spare.
For information about performances of The Giver and ticket prices, visit