Thursday, January 29, 2015

Theatre at Arts Garage: I and You (reviews)

IandYouThe Theatre at Arts Garage opened its production of Lauren Gunderson’s I and You on January 16, 2015
Only in high school would two completely unconnected people—cranky, chronically ill Caroline and levelheaded basketball star Anthony—be paired to collaborate on a project to deconstruct a poem about the interconnectivity of everything. But as the two teens cram to finish their presentation on Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, a very real connection is made, and they ultimately learn of the deeper mystery that has brought them together.
Louis Tyrrell directed a cast that featured Terry Guest and Gracie Winchester.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
I and You has one of the least promising elevator pitches: teenagers studying the poetry of Walt Whitman discover that the eternal cycle of life and death is less inscrutable or meaningless than it seems… But as The Theatre at Arts Garage’s production illustrates, Lauren Gunderson’s award-winning play succeeds as both a droll dark comedy and an insightful, even moving inquiry into mortality.
First, Gunderson has created a couple of believable troubled teens who are fun to hang with — delightfully irreverent, simultaneously childish and mature… More crucially, Gunderson has written characters who win our compassion because their uncertainty about the meaning of life and the fear of death clearly mirror our own angst. We want to learn what they are learning.
Twenty-something actors Gracie Winchester and Terry Guest deftly pull off the difficult assignment portraying late adolescents.…
Guest has the tougher job because Anthony is so seemingly normal that he’s like a straight man-punching dummy for Caroline in the opening scenes. But over time, he pulls back viscera to expose layers of complex personality and a turmoil just below the affability.
Winchester has the more showy opportunities and she revels in them. Her Caroline might be jumping on her bed like a tween one moment, exulting in “Great Balls of Fire” another, angrily rejecting anything that even smells like pity one moment, surprisingly reaching out to comfort Anthony the next. She has internalized Gunderson’s modern teenage speaking rhythms without ever seeming like she is giving a performance.
…Arts Garage has leaned toward shows with two and three actors. Fortunately, exploring relationships between a few characters is one of director Louis Tyrrell’s gifts. Once again, as he did in Lungs in 2013, he deftly shapes performances, helps actors find nuances and carefully paces the tidal rhythms of a play’s arc.
Rod Stafford Hagwood wrote for The Sun-Sentinel:
I'm not sure just exactly what I and You is, other than being absorbing and clever and funny and sad.  The play.. seems to be a teen-angst drama, but with plenty of dry, hashtag-y humor. But then, it's also a metaphysical suspense-mystery… Then, there are these moments — fleeting passages, really — that have the heightened, melodramatic vibe of a soap opera.
The script by Lauren Gunderson (Exit, Pursued by a Bear) script is all that, and possibly more. Director Louis Tyrrell keeps it all balanced, never letting one aspect overtake another, never letting the emotional balance or push-me-pull-me dynamic spin out of control.
…whatever you label "I and You," it's really good. And when the final reveal comes after 90 minutes with no intermission, it is stunning and breathtaking and sweet.

The Theatre at Arts Garage presents Lauren Gunderson’s I and You through February 8, 2015

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