“I and You,” the latest play from the University of Connecticut Drama Department, debuts tonight at 8 p.m. at the Studio Theater in the School of Fine Arts. The production is a three-act story that centers on the changing relationship of Caroline and Anthony, who are partners for a Walt Whitman literature project. The two start as an awkward pair but begin to learn more about each other and dive deep into their own neuroses and issues in their lives. With the story beginning at such a mundane place, the transitions into the existential and transcendental feel all the more engaging.
Caroline is a housebound, snarky teenager played brilliantly by Carly Polistina. The role demands a wide range of both bottled up anger and unchecked aggression, and the actress succeeds in both categories. Speaking about the acting performances in “I and You,” director Ryan Rudewicz stressed the spontaneity inherent in a stage performance
“We started rehearsals on March 5 and have been practicing the line readings for over a month now, but on the stage each performance is different, so the people who see tomorrow’s show are going to get a different play,” Rudewicz said.
The more outspoken of the two leads is Anthony, played by Maurico Miranda. “The Senator,” as Caroline calls him, is apparently the perfect son, but through the story, he displays a fear and imperfection with life that shatters this ideal facade. Miranda’s strongest quality is his comedic timing, which makes the 90-minute runtime whiz by.
The unsung hero of “I and You” is first-time director Rudewicz. The director is tasked with leading a completely student-lead production and he succeeds completely. The set design and blocking of the actors is spot-on and adds an extra depth to each plot point. One piece of set design that stuck out to me is the use of Christopher Walken, who all zero of my consistent readers will know to be a recurring theme in my stories. The man is an icon, and his face is pictured on a wall of and pillow in Caroline’s room. Is this decision a reference to Walken’s Nick in “Deer Hunter” who, because of his PTSD, must constantly confront death, much like Caroline’s character must live under threat of liver failure? Probably not, but the set design surely makes the audience think.
“I and You” was written by Lauren Gunderson, an Atlanta playwright who is gaining attention nationwide. The New Yorker called her “the most popular playwright you probably haven’t heard of,” and that popularity is not misguided. The dialogue has serious wit and a momentum that beautifully carries the audience through the story.
If you are interested in checking out “I and You,” the show times this weekend are 8 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Saturday.
Teddy Craven is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.