3 Min Read

A Wonderful 90 Minutes at the Theatre: I and You

I And You written by Lauren Gunderson and presented by THEATRE 180 is a one act realist drama about a teenager experiencing chronic illness, who has been forced into an after-school study session. This well-crafted two hander explores the ins and outs of adolescents and offers a truly unique perspective on death. The writing is poetic and follows a simple yet effective three-act structure with a dramatic reveal in its final scene.

I & You: Darius Williams and Sophia Forrest. Image by: Stewart Thorpe

Sophia Forrest as the isolated and easily frustrated Caroline is likeable, and masterfully allows the audience into the confines of the reclusive and standoffish teenager.  As the play progresses Caroline becomes more and more likeable and Forrest manipulates her performance to convey the pathos and optimism of the character’s situation.

Opposite Forrest is Darius Williams, as the overbearingly bright Anthony who springs himself on Caroline in bid for assistance on his literature assignment. Williams is believable as the half poetry & jazz nerd, half basketball jock and is largely responsible for the momentum of the play. Williams is charming and dynamic on stage; his natural stage presence eases the audience through some of the more confronting scenes and he is thoroughly convincing in the character’s vulnerability.

Both actors are tasked with the difficult job of moving their character beyond high school stereotypes and into believable characters deserving of the audience’s empathy and do so seemingly with ease.

Direction by Kate Cherry supports the style of the play without realising what could be a very stagnant stage. She keeps her actors moving, both physically and emotionally through the work and allows the narrative to emerge between the two characters naturally. The realism of Gunderson’s play has been fully accomplished by Cherry, who lifts the rhythm of the text off the page and into the transformed Burt Hall.

I & You: Darius Williams and Sophia Forrest. Image by: Stewart Thorpe

Matthew Raven’s set and costume design is timeless yet effective. It completely transforms the confines of Burt Hall into an intimate thrust theatre. On reflection there are elements of the design which foreshadow the ending of the play, but at the request of the producer those will be kept a secret.

My one critique of this work is in the politics of Gunderson’s writing. Anthony is an explicitly black character yet unnecessarily relies on the stereotype of the ‘magical negro’. Anthony comes to the aid of the explicitly white Caroline with wisdom about the gifts of life such as jazz music and poetry. The conversation about illness, death and fear feels so pertinent to our global circumstances that this offering from the text felt out of step with conversations about race being spurred on by the BLM movement.

Overall, I And You is a well put together piece of theatre, presented by a company who deserves your support. The tight direction, strong performances and intimacy of the space tie together for a wonderful 90 minutes at the theatre.