A review by Suzanne Birrell
I and You by Lauren Gunderson now playing at the
Fountain Theatre is one of those plays you'll want to see more than once. You'll get to the end and want to go right back to the beginning. There is definitely more than meets the eye in this dynamic story about two teenagers who get together to complete a class assignment about Walt Whitman's use of the words "I and you" in a poem. Although at times the story seems to wane, we are drawn into the life of these two very different teenagers.
Matthew Hancock is beautiful and sensitive as Anthony, a basketball star, saxophone player who loves John Coltane and "A" student, who has come to do a team project. He enters the room with trepidation, repeating lines from Walt Whitman. His play with emotions is only understood at the end.
Jennifer Finch is dynamic and witty as Caroline. Chronically ill and confined to her bedroom, Caroline is emotionally labile and hates her marginal life with "verve" while she teaches us to see the beauty in the little things.
The sounds design by John Zalewski draws you into story. I wondered at the choices only to have the reveal at the end. The design team, Tom Buderwitz, set; Jeremy Pivnick, lighting, and Dillon Nelson, props/set design, and Jocelyn Hublau parker, costume is to be complimented. The sum total was a sensitive reveal of Caroline's character (although I did wonder at the Harry Bellefonte album).
Director Robin Larsen did a masterful job of directing a play that could easily have gone south. Two people in one room for 90 minutes talking about life and death. Three was a musicality to the dynamics and a sense of choreography to the movements. Nothing was contrived. The nuances were not forced.
I AND YOU is one of those shows you will talk about all the way home. All the little things that made no sense all fall into place at the end. Ample laughter and some occasional tears in a great story beautifully told makes for a totally satisfying theatre going experience.
The Los Angeles premiere of I and You is playing at the award winning Fountain Theatre thru June 21, 2015.