“I And You,” Lauren Gunderson’s recent drama that runs through November 15 at Oregon Contemporary Theatre, is a sweet and engaging romance deftly told.
Directed by OCT’s artistic director Craig Willis, the tightly written story features Liv Burns as Caroline, a smart and sardonic teenager confined to her room by some unspecified chronic disease, and Jonathan Thompson as Anthony, the openly sincere boy who suddenly appears seeking help with his English homework on Walt Whitman.
Alternately frightened and fascinated by his appearance – her mother, it seems, has sent the young man up to Caroline’s room to visit her – she circles and parries and and seduces her strange visitor over the course of 85 quick minutes.
Gunderson’s dialog is sharp. “Why are you impossible?” Anthony asks, ever the straight man to her acerbic wit. “It makes this shitty life a lot more fun,” Caroline snaps.
Whitman’s “Song of Myself,” which Anthony quotes extensively, is practically a character in the story, its transcendentalism proving an underpinning for the neat resolution of Anthony and Caroline’s blooming romance. “I am this mystery, here we stand,” Anthony quotes, and only as the lights come down do we fully understand the mystery of which he and Whitman speak.
Burns is charming and engaging as Caroline, and Thompson is fine as Anthony; but neither actor quite commands the full emotional range of Gunderson’s script, and Thompson’s lack of articulation made some of the Whitman difficult to understand when I saw the play last night.
The set, by Amy Dunn, places Caroline in South Eugene, a nice touch, and both set and costumes, by Jeanette deJong, use the South Eugene High School color purple as a unifying accent.
This is a solid, entertaining and engaging show. Do go see it.
I And You
Oregon Contemporary Theatre
Through November 15