I and You | The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis

I and You 75You’ll find yourself discussing I and You long after it’s over.

 

 

 

 

I and You 500

Lauren Gunderson’s I and You is kicking off The Rep’s 2015-16 Studio Series, and it’s an emotional rollercoaster ride well-worth the price of admission. I don’t use the word emotional to suggest you’ll be crying every other scene—the play is actually packed with laugh out loud moments—but it does kick up the dust in a place of your heart that’s not easily touched. I and You is clever, witty, cheeky, comical, insightful, and moving; thankfully uninterrupted by an intermission, as the momentum of this show is an important part of its charm.

Bringing the small space to life is the show’s only two characters, high school seniors Caroline (Danielle Carlacci) and Anthony (Reynaldo Piniella). Caroline has been sick more or less since she was born and recently stopped attending school in-person due to her worsening condition. Anthony catches her completely off guard when he walks into her bedroom unannounced, proclaiming he’s her partner for an English project. Although Caroline had told her teacher she could keep up with her work from home, she’s hardly enthused, especially because the assignment involves poetry—Walt Whitman’s poetry collection Leaves of Grass to be specific. Plus, she doesn’t even know Anthony. Needless to say she’s extremely perturbed, which only intensifies her temperamental disposition. Anthony, a student who clearly cares a lot about his grades, isn’t easily deterred by her moodiness, partially because he can’t afford to be. He REALLY needs her help on their poster; his artistic skills are equivalent to scribbles. Over the course of the play’s three parts, and between threats made by each to just abandon the project altogether, Caroline and Anthony—two people who couldn’t seem more different—begin to understand one another on a deeper level. There’s something so wonderfully organic about their exchanges, and Gunderson has woven Whitman’s work into the script beautifully.

Ever since seeing this show, I’ve wanted to gush to my friends, family members, and even coworkers about its conclusion, which took my breath away. Even if someone insists, delivering the classic ‘I won’t get a chance to see it anyway,’ I still refuse to give it away because the ending is what makes this show most memorable. It easily accomplishes something I feel so many other plays struggle with; it maintains an element of complete surprise! Perhaps a few people in the crowd figured out the ending leading up to it, but based on the abundance of audible gasps around me, I’d say most were as taken aback as I was.

The show’s set is also memorable. Scenic Designer Eric Barker did a splendid job creating Caroline’s room. The entire production takes place here, yet, as an audience member, I never tired of it. Caroline loves to take pictures and her bedroom walls are covered in them, making the space colorful and surprisingly intriguing. It’s the type of space that, in real life, I’d love to walk through and hear the story behind each and every image.

I and You is a show you’ll find yourself wanting to discuss long after it’s over. My fiancé and I didn’t stop talking about it the entire way home. I can’t say it enough: please go and see this show! It’s absolutely phenomenal. | Megan Washausen

Photos: Jerry Naunheim, Jr.

I and You runs at The Rep through Nov. 15. For ticket information, visit www.repstl.org

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