REVIEW: I and You
Langham Court Theatre
It’s a typical modern scene: a teenager’s messy room, dominated by today’s electronic accoutrements. One somewhat sullen young woman, whose name is Caroline.
Enter Anthony, a shy and apologetic young man, who has come to engage Caroline in a school project – an analysis of Walt Whitman’s poetic self-portrait. Caroline wants him to go away and leave her in misery over having a serious illness. Somehow he persists, and Caroline slowly emerges from her self-absorption, and enters into the spirit of the poem.
Justin Francis Lee is wonderful as Anthony, handling the challenging role of the perfect straight-A student deftly. Jesse Deutscher engages our empathy, despite being hostile and difficult at first. As the dialogue continues, we see a relationship develop, and it totters forward to become a fragile and uncertain friendship.
Barbara Clerihue, who designed the set, admits she based Caroline’s room on her own daughter’s “hovel.” Jason King does a superb job with projections and sound. Director John Han carefully guides the actors, so that their relationship develops slowly and haltingly, which leaves the audience cheering from the sidelines. There is also something significant in the way Caroline keeps tidying up her room, which feels as if she might be clearing a path, not only through the space but also through her mind, to connect with Anthony.
I and You has to be close to the top of the list of excellent plays produced at Langham Court. Playwright Laura Gunderson has managed to make every word count, including those by Walt Whitman, which are instrumental in making the two characters come to terms with their lives. The surprising twist near the end resulted in a collective gasp from the audience on opening night. At 90 minutes with no intermission, this is a tight show which commands attention. It runs until March 14. Visit langhamtheatre.ca or call call 250-384-2142 for your tickets.