“I & You” Funny and Moving, with a Debt to Walt Whitman
By Skip Sheffield
The title “I & You” is a direct lift from Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass.” Any play that references Whitman gets bonus points in my book.
“I & You” is a two character play by Lauren Gunderson, running through Feb. 8 at Arts Garage, 180 N.W. First Street, Delray Beach.
Caroline (Grace Winchester) and Anthony (Terry Guest) are high school seniors working together on a paper on Whitman’s Civil War masterpiece, “Leaves of Grass.” Caroline is chronically ill and has missed many days of school. Anthony is a jock; a basketball star who is somewhat disinterested in the project. Never mind that neither of the actors looks as young as a high school student; it’s the words that count, and Gunderson’s words are beautiful and concise.
There is something about facing death that makes one embrace life fearlessly. Such is the case with Caroline, who needs a liver transplant or she surely will die. So Caroline is feisty, with nothing to lose. “I am this mystery,” she says, quoting Whitman. Anthony is cheerful and eager to please, and he feels under the gun because the “Leaves of Grass” paper is due the next day.
“I & You” zips by in 80 minutes, no intermission under Louis Tyrrell’s direction. This is one of those plays that will make you laugh, though you may well cry. I brought two young 20-something women with me; my daughter Anna and her good friend Negean. Both girls were moved to tears, but in a good way.
Art Garage publicist Kay Renz tells me “I & You” is being shared with approximately 1,000 Palm Beach County students to teach about people with disabilities. I can’t think of a worthier production. Tickets are $25-$40. Call 561-4506357 or go to www.artsgarage.org.