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"I and You" shows the gravity of being a teenager

SteppingStone Theatre's play, streaming online through April 24, tries to make yawpping cool again.

Photo courtesy SteppingStone Theatre.

Two teenagers: Caroline is bedridden, prickly, with a secret penchant for photography. Anthony is a charismatic basketball player with a love for Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass," which, incidentally is the subject of their English assignment that's due tomorrow. Cue the indie pop soundtrack, a camera pan over the suburbs, and the floating title, "I and You." Actually, maybe some Coletrane would be more appropriate.

"I and You," which streams April 14-24, respectively stars Quinn Morrissey (seen in SteppingStone Theatre's "Disney's Beauty and the Beast Jr.") and Victoria Pekel ("Disney's The Little Mermaid Jr.") as Anthony and Caroline in this production by SteppingStone Theatre and Park Square Theatre. The whole play is filmed remotely, with side-by-side video screens and a string of fairy lights and photo collages connecting the two blank walls. Morrissey and Pekel manage to make it work, though, and under the direction of Mark Ferraro-Hauck, they don't overexaggerate too much of what is largely a 90-minute conversational roller coaster.

A screenshot of Quinn Morrissey and Victoria Pekel in "I and You."
Quinn Morrissey and Victoria Pekel perform "I and You" from separate rooms.

While this is SteppingStone's first production geared toward teenagers and adults, it definitely leans more toward the former. Not only did the theater create an education guide with classroom activities, but playwright Lauren Gunderson gave everything a John Green wash, with ridiculously articulate, quirky-but-cool teenagers streaked with (justifiable) existentialism. How many teenagers are ready to throw down about poetry or pulling off lines like, "I'm agnostic about glitter"? How many are proclaiming that clashing tastes in music—not pop, mind you, but jazz—is the ultimate relationship killer? (Maybe I just had an extremely average, mumbling high school experience.)

Unfortunately, the script can veer toward the cringe with a high strung start (someone may be threatened with a hair brush) and almost predictably paced emotional bombs about family, mortality, and relationships. Despite this, Morrissey and Pekel are able to reel us back every time with their sincerity, and I even replayed Caroline's poetry presentation to let the academic analysis—and the play's takeaway—sink in a little more. With their acting, it is possible for a coming-of-age story to take place in a few hours, and they make you want to "sound your barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world," wherever you are.


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