Review: I and You (Hampstead Theatre, London via Instagram)

Photo credit: Manuel Harlan

In our current enforced state of isolation thanks to the nationwide lockdown, creatives across the country have been engaged in a tornado of generosity sharing their existing work on line and producing theatre at home. One such giver is London’s Hampstead Theatre who have released their 2018 production of Lauren Gunderson’s I and You starring Maisie Williams and Zach Wyatt via Instagram for a limited period of time.

Back in the free and easy days of 2018, a story about a young lady who spends her existence in isolation may not have had such far-reaching resonance. Today however, you would be hard pressed not to find someone who isn’t feeling the impending doom of rapidly closing in walls.

Maisie Williams’ Caroline has a medical condition that to all intense and purposes confines her to her room. Her world is viewed from a huge skylight and via her on line portal. Her mind is blown and world torn apart after a hasty entrance and a sharp doe of Walt Whitman thanks to the energy and enthusiasm of Zach Wyatt’s Anthony, hell bent of roping Caroline in on a school project.

Under Edward Hall’s direction, both Williams and Wyatt bring to life Gunderson’s intense and intricately woven dialogue in what has to be, on face value, a beautifully argued polemic against screens and an eye-opening introduction to the beauty of other art forms. Whitman, Coltrane, Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis all get shared as Caroline’s bleak palate is slowly filled with colour thanks to Anthony’s passion.

What unfolds, beyond a growing friendship and deeper understanding of the human condition, is something far more beautiful and surprising than the initial premise promises.

Both Williams and Wyatt fill the rolls as if they were written for them. During this period of lockdown, there is no more fitting piece of theatre to watch from home than this: truly heart-warming, full of promise, passion and incredibly cathartic.

Long after this has been resolved, it will be programmes like the Hampstead’s that will be remembered and rightly celebrated.

I and You is available to watch for free via @hampstead_theatre or @lalatellsastory (Lauren Gunderson) on Instagram until Sunday, 29 March at 10pm.

Suggested age recommendation is 14+

Originally published on Broadway World.

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