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Theatre / I and You

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Caroline and Anthony, as portrayed by Maisie Williams and Zach Wyatt.

I and You is a play written by Lauren Gunderson, first preformed in 2013.

The play centers around high-school basketball player Anthony's attempt to enlist his classmate Caroline to help him complete his English assignment on Walt Whitman's book Leaves of Grass which he'd put off until the day before it was due. Caroline hasn't physically been to school in months due her failing liver, but due to her determination to finish school as normal Anthony is eventually able to persuade her to at least hear him out.

While Caroline is hostile and short-tempered, it quickly becomes apparent that she hasn't been able to interact with anyone but her mom and her doctors for longer than she cares to discuss, and that the stress of managing not only her rapidly declining health but her family's grief about it is wearing her down. As they work together the two slowly open up to other about their dreams and fears, as well as a private grief of his own that Anthony is carrying.


It won the 2014 Harold and Mimi Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award, and was a finalist for the 2014 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize.

I and You contains examples of:

  • The Ace: Discussed. Caroline accuses Anthony of being "the perfect son", pointing out that he's popular in school, gets good grades, is a member of the basketball team as well as a saxophone player, and is a lover of poetry and jazz music. He argues against her, pointing out that people liking him doesn't mean that he's a perfect person and sharing some of his flaws.
  • Air Guitar: Caroline plays air piano to "Great Balls of Fire".
  • All Just a Dream: Played with. At the end of the play Anthony reveals none of the play has physically happened. He was the boy he talked about earlier who died on the basketball court, and his liver is a match for Caroline. She's been unconscious as it was transferred to her, and this was Anthony's final effort to both meet and say goodbye to her as he wasn't able to in life.
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  • Ambiguously Gay: Anthony and Caroline argue over whether Walter Whitman was gay, with Anthony saying that he obviously was and Caroline arguing that he wasn't.
  • ...And That Little Girl Was Me: It's not revealed until the very end of the play, but the boy Anthony saw at his basket ball game was actually him; Caroline has been unconscious and speaking with his ghost the entire time.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: "Why aren't you afraid of dying?"
  • Bittersweet Ending: Despite sharing a kiss and finding mutual understanding with each other, Anthony and Caroline will likely never see each other again since he's dead, and never got the chance to actually go to her house to meet her. However, Caroline finally gets the liver transplant she desperately needs and her health can finally recover, allowing her to see the world the way she dreamed of while she spent months if not years confined to her house due to her illness. While she'll never see Anthony again, it's strongly implied she'll always remember him and that she gave him the closure he needed to move on.
  • Camera Fiend: Though she uses her phone camera rather than a professional one, Caroline startles Anthony at several points by suddenly taking photos of him while they're talking. She happily explains that she hopes to be a professional photographer someday, and when he sees the photographs Anthony admits she has a natural talent for it.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The malfunctioning smoke detector. It's actually the noise of the various monitors Caroline is hooked up to while she undergoes surgery.
  • Dead All Along: One of the main twists in the play is that Anthony is a ghost, having died earlier that day during his basketball game.
  • Death of a Child: The characters discuss the trauma of witnessing the death of a boy at Anthony's basketball game at several points, and try to process their own feelings about life if someone so young and seemingly healthy could die so suddenly.
  • Disappeared Dad: Caroline's parents are separating due to the stress her illness put on their marriage, and she hasn't seen or heard from her dad in months. She's fairly bitter about it, though mostly because she can see how much her mom misses him.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Caroline hates how gently people treat her due to her probably-terminal illness, saying that it's fake kindness rather than people actually getting to know her and really care about her. At several points in the play she orders Anthony to leave when she thinks he's being nice to her out of pity.
  • Foreshadowing: There are several hints long before the reveal that the characters aren't actually in Caroline's room and that Anthony is dead.
    • The fire alarm that goes off at several points makes the sounds of a hospital monitor rather than an actual fire alarm.
    • Caroline's usually-attentive mother never responds to her texts, despite giving Anthony cookies on his way in and directing him to Caroline's room.
    • Anthony's extreme distress when Caroline wants to go check social media about what happened at the basketball court at first seems like a response to the trauma of seeing it happen, though the fact that it was a video of his own death was also probably a factor.
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack: The malfunctioning smoke detector. It's actually the beeping of life support equipment.
  • Ill Girl: Discussed and Defied. Caroline purposefully cultivates a hostile, sardonic demeanor to stop people from treating her as a helpless waif rather than a regular teenage girl. While she does have a hidden softer side, she never never loses her bite.
  • Ironic Echo: This quote from "Song of Myself", as Caroline is likely to die soon if she can't get a liver transplant:
    "You will hardly know who I am or what I mean / But I shall be good health to you nevertheless..."
  • Minimalist Cast: There are only two characters in the play, Caroline and Anthony. Other people are mentioned but never appear or are heard.
  • The Napoleon: Caroline is short enough to need a stepladder to get things off her own shelves, and before she warms up to Anthony is overflowing with pushiness and belligerence. Anthony outright asks her to lay off the "small dog rage".
  • The Oner
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Caroline is horrified when she learns that the parents of the teenage boy who died at the basketball game were there and probably saw their son die, unable to help him. Anthony says he doesn't know for sure, but he thought he heard the boy's dad as he left the game.
  • Parental Abandonment: Caroline's dad left her mother because of Caroline's illness.
  • Phoneaholic Teenager: Because Caroline is too sick to leave the house, she's grown to depend on her phone to let her stay connected to things outside her house. It's pointed out that when she actually gets to interact with people in person she uses her phone as a way to keep them at a distance, for instance being more preoccupied with friending Anthony on Facebook than his attempts to actually befriend her.
  • Stylistic Suck: Anthony's poster presentation for his project is so awful that when Caroline sees it she feels compelled to help out of sheer pity. Only partly justified by the fact that he put it off until the last minute, and the fact that Anthony admits that while he was working on it he realized he might be colorblind.
  • Talking in Your Dreams: Anthony reveals to Caroline at the end of the play that this is how they've been interacting the whole time: he's dead and she's been unconscious the whole play.
  • There Are No Therapists: No one stopped Anthony from leaving a basketball game where he witnessed another boy die in front of him and going straight to go work on a homework assignment. Even Caroline points out he should probably be with someone or talk to someone about it to help him deal with the trauma. It turns out that the reason no one tried to reach out to him afterwards was that he was the dead boy.
  • Where da White Women At?: Casting directions specifically call for Anthony and Caroline to be of different races. Dialogue pins Caroline as White. The most common outcome, therefore, is this trope.

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