Though live entertainment took a big blow this year due to COVID-19, UWG’s theatre company offered virtual performances to keep theatre alive.
UWG actors performed in front of cameras rather than an audience for the production of I And You, directed by Amy Cuomo. Students have access to online viewing through Broadway on Demand from Nov. 11 through Nov. 20, 2020.
I And You is the second Fearless production of the UWG’s theatre company for the 2020-2021 season. It is a contemporary play written by Lauren Gunderson dealing with the ephemeral yet profound connection between two teenagers.
The plot revolves around a long conversation between Caroline and an unexpected visitor, her popular classmate Anthony. The pair talk about life and death while exploring Walt Whitman’s poem Leaves of Grass for a class project. Since Caroline is homebound due to illness, the entirety of the play takes place in one setting—her bedroom.
What’s captivating about this play is how it presents the conversation, which begins awkwardly and very lightly. However, as the conversation evolves, it reveals the complexity of adolescent life by perfectly touching important topics that are familiar to most high school students and young adults, such as the fear of not fitting in society and the fear of dying.
Though the play starts as a comedy, the ending will make any audience speechless. While the audience realizes the importance of Leaves of Grass to the meaning of the story, the information given by the protagonists makes total sense at the end. Further, a fascinating element of the play lies in the decoration which foreshadows the ending. Indeed, the Romeo and Juliet poster works as a subtle reference to another brief connection between two young lovers. As the story unfolds, the similarities are strongly apparent.
While the action is seen through video, the audience gets a clear sense of Caroline’s personality thanks to the actor’s placement on set and the cameras’ tracking shots. Throughout the play, Caroline and Anthony constantly move, which allows for the discovery of Caroline’s bedroom. The bedroom is filled with Caroline’s pictures, revealing her passion for photography and her love for cats, which makes her personable for the audience. Overall, the actors seemed as comfortable on camera as they would be during a live production.
Watching a play on video is an odd experience, and not everyone will appreciate it. Yet, the on-screen performance did not prevent viewers from enjoying the play. UWG’s production of I and You was refreshing. The actors did a good job occupying the space while being followed by the cameras. Although there were a few jump cuts, camera shake, and some audio inconsistencies at times that took away from the production value of the play, the production crew’s effort to offer this performance amid the pandemic is commendable.