Sometimes a play comes along that is daring and willing to take risks, and I and You at the Hampstead Theatre is a play that does just that – and comes out on top!
Zach Wyatt, who has only recently graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama has taken on the incredible writing of Lauren Gunderson and has exceeded expectations. Not only that, having Maisie Williams (you may know her for her role as Arya in Game of Thrones) in her first ever stage role seems to have gone above and beyond any risks and turned this show into a beautiful creation. The play wonderfully proves itself to be incredibly entertaining, and at times very powerful. Put simply, ‘I and You’ is a joy to watch; very witty and heart-warming.
As we mentioned earlier, Lauren Gunderson’s writing has helped to turn this production into a success. The outline is simple enough: seriously poorly and stuck in the house Caroline (Maisie Williams) has to fall back on social media for company and to halt the loneliness. Out of the blue, her classmate Anthony (Zack Wyatt) visits, unwanted, to work with her on a school project based on Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. Initially, Caroline is far from happy about the project and Anthony’s intrusion, however over time grows to enjoy both the company that Anthony offers and the beautiful words and poetry of Whitman. It does not take long for a deep bond to grow between Caroline and Anthony.
You will be pleased to hear that the drama avoids turning to pop-cultural references for humour; despite being based in contemporary America. The public, I am sure, will be happy and satisfied to hear that most of the jokes are perfectly witty and ensure good all-around entertainment; this is down majorly to the incredible delivery by the actors and their beautiful comedic timing. Both Wyatt and Williams deliver some thrilling and enthralling performances that are highly believable and likable from the very first opening act.
There are moments that build and rise to moments of surprising transcendence whilst at the same time staying in a teen universe. Both Caroline and Anthony bond through the power of poetry and music which also allows them to grow independently too. As with many teenagers, Caroline has many layers that Williams brings out brilliantly well over the course of the entire play. And the same can be said with Wyatt; his ability to portray a character that is coming to understand his impact on the world is mesmerising.
It is refreshing to hear Whitman’s poetry in a new identity and platform; allowed to offer an overview of happiness and life, which fits perfectly with Caroline’s death-ridden character without feeling forceful. It only feels natural; with both characters able to enjoy hopes, dreams and friendships in a seamless and powerful act of self-worth.
I and You is an absolute must see. Even fans of Game of Thrones will get something from this incredible play. It is a wonderful story that reminds us all that there is always a chance to be happy, and always a light at the end of the tunnel. It tells us that even in the darkest of times there is always sunshine just around the corner. A strong and powerful message that is important to hear at any stage of our lives.