Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Culture
  2. Music & Theatre
31 October 2018updated 23 Jul 2021 10:28am

Hampstead Theatre’s I And You: a distinctly Young Adult play

Maisie Williams shines in this play of boy-meets-girl-with-serious-illness.  

By Anna Leszkiewicz

Caroline is almost a normal teenage girl. She spends all her time on her phone. Her room is “one big weird collage” of posters. She loves Elvis movies and Jerry Lee Lewis. She’s also taking a long break from school, thanks to a potentially lethal illness.

I and You at the Hampstead Theatre tells the story of Caroline (Maisie Williams) and Anthony (Zach Wyatt), a high-achieving boy from her school who turns up at her bedroom door with a copy of Leaves of Grass, insisting she help him with their school project on Walt Whitman. Over the course of the 90-minute play, the two characters get to know each other while bonding over their newfound love for the work. Both find it soothes their anxieties about death – Caroline’s fear of her illness, Anthony’s horror at seeing a classmate die on the basketball court. Caroline eventually drops her defensive quips to talk honestly about herself, and Anthony shows her that he’s not the picture-perfect person he seems.

Written by the in-demand American playwright Lauren Gunderson, I and You feels distinctly Young Adult: boy meets girl with serious illness is a common plot in YA fiction and film, as are school projects on literature with themes the protagonists can relate to. At one point, this tips over into the juvenile: the final twist could perhaps blow a teenager’s mind, but to me felt reminiscent of much-parodied romantic fiction written by children on Tumblr.

Williams, whom audiences will know from Game of Thrones (I also loved her in Carol Morley’s strange film The Falling), is excellent. This is her stage debut, though you wouldn’t know it. She is infectiously charismatic – moving effortlessly from frustration to bashfulness to fiery enthusiasm. It’s a performance worth seeing. 

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy
THANK YOU

Content from our partners
High streets remain vitally important to local communities
The future of gas
Taxing non-doms fairly would raise billions

This article appears in the 31 Oct 2018 issue of the New Statesman, The Great War’s long shadow