By Shelli Park
Karin Terry and Kody Smith, the two actors who play Caroline and Anthony in BAT’s second offering of the 2021 season ‘I and You,’ bring the audience, with ease, into their intimate world made more intimate by the virtual format.
The experience is both entertaining and moving.
‘I and You’, written by Lauren Gunderson, is the story of two young people navigating an emotional landscape that is filled with both joy and pain. Written in 2014, the play carries the hallmarks of the modern teenage obsession with technology, but also, technology as a sine qua non enabling those who are limited by illness or disability to connect with the outside world.
Technology aside, the play speaks to the timelessness and value of human connection using Walt Whitman’s ‘Leaves of Grass’ to amplify moments with a more profound meaning.
Terry, as Caroline, and Smith, as Anthony, are stellar as two teenagers embarking on a journey of establishing trust through the process of deepening dialogue. One must be a smart person to be convincing as a smart character, and to also live up to well written dialogue. These two are.
Smith, who is 19-years old, has a solid emotional range and a maturity that is significant for his age. His performance as Anthony is natural and believable. He brings a groundedness to the play that counters the understandably high emotions of Caroline.
Caroline is a chronically ill teenager who, recently, has been forced to remain at home, isolated from her classmates, due to a worsening of her condition. Terry creates a character who is, in the beginning, unreachable, but slowly, and convincingly, comes out of her shell, allowing Anthony to see her. She is fun to watch. When Caroline deflects Anthony’s attempts at connection you can read the defiance through every little action. Terry’s believability translates strongly through her eyes, which convey elusiveness when protecting self, and an open warmth when she allows herself to let Anthony in.
Gunderson laces sections of Whitman’s poem throughout the dialogue bringing a depth to the teenager’s banter. Smith reads the poem excerpts with engaging tenderness. Gunderson has also inserted Coltrane’s A Love Supreme as one of Anthony’s favorite pieces of music. There is magic being created in Caroline’s world.
The show is directed by Andrew Coopman. Coopman understands, and works well within, the limitations of the Zoom screen. He creates and choreographs the action in a way that fills the space making it easy to forget that one is staring at a screen and not directly into the action. His handling of a furtive kiss is the best I have seen in the new Zoom production world. The only complaint that I have about the entire production is that there is a bed on both sides of Caroline’s room. This may be unavoidable within the reality of the actor’s spaces, but was a distraction for me.
‘I and You‘ is a wonderful production. I enjoyed every moment, and encourage those who have hesitated to invest an evening in this new form of theatrical entertainment to take advantage of this opportunity. You won’t be disappointed.
TICKETS AND SHOW INFO
There are two remaining performances left:
As always, BAT’s Shelter-in-place Season III is pay-what-you-will. If money is tight during Covid, see the show for as little as $1. If money is not so tight, help keep BAT alive during COVID-19 with a larger donation of any size.