As a theatre –lover and reviewer, I always go into a performance hoping to see something new, something of value, something amazing, but most of all something that will resonate within me. It may be a particular song, an emotional scene, a theme or a connection, but something that will make me want to share this show with everyone around me. Rarely do I find a show that does all of those things and then some! But ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to say that “I and You” is one of those rare shows. As I walked out of the theatre this past Sunday afternoon I found myself completely at a loss for words. I usually always find something to say that sums up what I just saw, but this time there was silence. That silence is entirely because of the indescribable, mind-blowing brilliance that is “I and You”.
“I and You” is masterfully written by Lauren Gunderson, who, in my opinion, is one of the best writers in the business today. It tells the story of teenagers, Caroline and Anthony, as they try to fight through their differences to complete a school project on Walt Whitman. As they learn and discover more about the poet that brought them together, themselves and each other, they create an unbreakable bond. They soon discover they have more in common than they realize. This theme is one that drew director Sean Daniels, Merrimack Repertory Theatre’s Artistic Director, to the show in the very beginning.
The cast features Kayla Ferguson, as Caroline, and Reggie D. White, as Anthony. These two engaging actors embody their characters in a way that draws the audience into the story from the moment they walk on stage. From their first amusing interaction to their last intense moments, and everything in between, they were uniquely captivating. It’s no surprise that they will be continuing in the show when it heads to Off-Broadway this winter.
“I and You” shows us that though we may have differences, such as our preferred music choices, we also have a lot in common. It encourages us to understand those around us. This play reminds us to be present with the people we are with. We never know what we might learn when we put down our phones and actually listen to something other than our own thoughts. Like Caroline, we may realize that even with all the barriers we’ve set up and the distance we’ve put between us and everyone else; that there is someone out there that gets us; even our most complicated and emotional self.
This show will make you laugh, but it will also pull on your heartstrings as it brings tears to your eyes. And just when you think you have it all figured out, it will astonish you and take your breath away. At the end of the performance, Sunday’s audience couldn’t stand fast enough to give this show a robust and well-deserved standing ovation. And when you see it, you will too!
I don’t just highly recommend that you see this show; I am telling you, you HAVE to see this show before it heads to Off-Broadway at New York’s 59E59 Theatres in January 2016 where it will feature the same actors, designs and direction as in the Lowell production. “I and You” plays at Merrimack Repertory Theatre until November 1st. Tickets range from $60-$23. To purchase tickets or find more information check out www.mrt.org or call 978-654-4678.
For more of my reviews and theatrical thoughts check out: http://intheatresome1isalwayswatching.blogspot.com