Kaleidoscope Theater’s play ‘The Giver’ premieres this weekend –
While Victoria’s Kaleidoscope Theater bills itself as a “theater for young people”, adults and children alike will be mesmerized and haunted by its latest production of the dystopian play, The donor, based on the book by Lois Lowry.
The play takes place in an abstract place called “the similarity”, where members of the community cannot see color, are unable to experience love, and where difference must be removed.
If a member of the community breaks too many rules, or if a baby cries too much, or if someone does something that differentiates them from “the same thing”, then that person will be “released”.
The concept of being “liberated” is mentioned several times, but it’s not until halfway through the play that viewers find out what it really means. At this point, it becomes obvious that The donor is a much darker story than one might initially suspect.
At the age of 12, each child in the community is assigned a role that they will fulfill until they become an “elder”. Roles include recreation master, elder care and birth mother – the latter bearing uncanny similarities to aspects of The Handmaid’s Tale. But the play’s protagonist, Jonas, is given a special role, and that role opens his eyes to a world that’s more interesting and loving, but also sad and terrifying.
If you need philosophical contemplation, ‘The donor’ may be just the hour of inspiration you are looking for.
With just a small set of six, each cast member expertly fills the stage to create a deeply powerful story about a society’s binaries – pain and pleasure, for example – and what it means for humans. to exist and to have autonomy.
Despite the age difference between actor and character, Elliott Loran as Jonas is a truly captivating performance, while UVic Phoenix Theater alum Haley Garnett successfully differentiates herself into three distinct characters (and charming) in the room. Meanwhile, Brian Linds as “The Giver” is a deft portrayal of your archetypal wise old man.
As always, Kaleidoscope Artistic Director Roderick Glanville creates a compelling world that captivates viewers for the duration of the show.
If you’re looking for something light, look elsewhere. But if you need a philosophical reflection, The donor may be just the hour of inspiration you are looking for.
The donor plays at the McPherson Theater this weekend—February 23 and 24—at 2 p.m. For more information or to buy tickets, visit www.rmts.bc.ca/events/the-giver-2019-mcpherson-playhouse.