By Bill Hirschman, FloridaTheaterOnStage.com, Special to EyesOnNews.com, Jan 21, 2015 – I and You has one of the least promising elevator pitches: teenagers studying the poetry of Walt Whitman discover that the eternal cycle of life and death is less inscrutable or meaningless than it seems.
Sounds like an Advanced Placement ABC After School Special.
But as The Theatre at Arts Garage’s production illustrates, Lauren Gunderson’s award-winning play succeeds as both a droll dark comedy and an insightful, even moving inquiry into mortality.
It is set in the seemingly pointless world of cold pragmatism that teenagers have been inserted without being consulted. And the most unfair facet of being born is the inevitability of death, a reality that these still evolving adolescents now face head on far earlier than their grandparents did.
The fact that these 17-year-olds –- and we with them — credibly find some measure of understanding through the wisdom of Whitman’s poetry in Leaves of Grass (with a little help from John Coltrane and Jerry Lee Lewis) is testament to Gunderson’s achievement.