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I and You

a Comedy/Drama
by Lauren Gunderson

COMPANY : Aurora Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Discovery Point Studio [WEBSITE]
ID# 4848

SHOWING : January 29, 2016 - February 21, 2016



Anthony turns up in Caroline’s bedroom one night bearing waffle fries, a beat-up book, and a homework assignment they’re supposed to do together: explore Walt Whitman’s poem “Song of Myself”. Chronically sick, Caroline hasn’t been to school in a while… and can’t ever remember meeting some kid named Anthony, which dials up both her suspicions and her “snark-o-meter.” But as the two get to know each other through Whitman’s powerful verse, they finally learn of the deeper mystery which brought them together. I AND YOU is a valentine to youth, love, and the strange beauty of human connectedness.

Language, Mature Themes

Director Jaclyn Hoffman
Anthony J. L. Reed
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Aye and Yay
by playgoer
Saturday, January 30, 2016
Lauren Gunderson’s "I and You" bears some resemblance to Margaret Edson’s "Wit," concurrently playing at the Aurora Theatre on the main stage. ("I and You" is in the black box theatre.) Both involve a female with an unpromising medical diagnosis and both deal with syntactical analysis of poetry (Donne’s punctuation in the case of "Wit;" Walt Whitman’s pronouns here). They also share another similarity: both are excellent productions, beautifully brought to life by wonderful performances.

The set, designed by Lee Maples, is a raised platform in the middle of the black box theatre, with audience on all four sides. The platform represents the bedroom of Caroline, complete with bed, desk, and beanbag chair. The walls of the room are exploded outward and downward, so each quadrant of the audience gets to see an upside-down, angled view of one wall. Jordan Wardach’s lighting scheme has a few special effects, but mostly allows the action to be seen clearly. For theatre in the round, sightlines are generally good.

Andrew Hobson’s costumes give Anthony a simple high-schooler’s garb and dress Caroline in pajamas, with a couple of different tops. The costuming looks natural, with a hint of colorful variety. Kristen Hunsicker’s props are impressive and also add some colorful touches.

Jaclyn Hofmann has directed the action to have a lot of movement. No backs are to one portion of the audience for an extended period of time. That’s the least of her achievements, though. She has coaxed marvelous performances out of her actors, orchestrating their interactions with great pacing and variety. Both Devon Hales and J.L. Reed impress with their facial, vocal, and physical actions and reactions. Ms. Hales even has the slightly flushed look of a shut-in whose cabin fever sometimes seems the equal of her disability.

The arc of "I and You" seems to play like an after-school special, with one schoolmate breaking through the wall of snarkiness the other has constructed for herself. And then there’s a twist that makes the audience reevaluate all they’ve seen before and emphasizes the similarities to "Wit." It’s a lovely ending to an affecting production, elevating the show far above what one’s expectations might have been for a show about a couple of high school students working on a presentation about Walt Whitman’s "Leaves of Grass." [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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