A Whimsical Tale For A World In Crisis

The Island of The Proud Circle floats merrily along on the open sea. It’s the microcosm of organic affluence, an idyllic home to settlers who live their simple lives “from the middle to the outside.” Babies are born in the center and grow old to retire on the waterline, where the sea awaits their first and final dive.

The play is written for children, though clearly the allegory is aimed at nudging an older generation to slow down and ponder the essence of our short lives – in the author’s words, to stare at the sun and breathe in the smell of the sea.

While no doubt an enthralling piece for young audiences, Finegan Kruckemeyer’s tale riffs on a myriad of themes designed to unnerve the grownups in the room. Composed with a single narrator in mind, YOU AND ME AND THE SPACE BETWEEN would appear to be an ideal fit for a discerning theater director with the knack to explain a layered narrative.

At Scoundrel and Scamp, Susan Arnold employs a theatrical scheme that features a small ensemble with the facility for animating a prolix script. It’s done through a skillful blend of choral speaking and unified movement; nary a dull moment on account of a dynamic group performance.

BWW Review: YOU AND ME AND THE SPACE BETWEEN: A Whimsical Tale For A World In Crisis

The script is evenly divided among five proficient actors who share the speaking load in seamless flow, all the while refining the narrative arc with a tightly choreographed series of movements which, on its own, tells a flawless story.

Indeed the cast is the highlight of the show: Gretchen Dwirges, Oscar De La Rocha, Emily Gates, Emily Fuchs, and Amanda Lopez-Castillo. A sixth member of the ensemble performs offstage: Foley artist Maddie Hill, whose diverse blend of devices evokes a magical aural dimension. All in all, the energy is impetuous and palpable, the delivery childlike in temperament. No actor stands out, yet everyone sparkles as a collective. This is by design, a remarkable byproduct of directory acumen.

BWW Review: YOU AND ME AND THE SPACE BETWEEN: A Whimsical Tale For A World In Crisis

While it runs only an hour, the play is a voluminous yarn rendered with a fierce and steady pace. It’s a relentless vocal stride that begs for an occasional break so we might absorb the rich images at every turn.

The story’s central conflict flares up as the island springs a leak and the citizens must summon a creative solution before their lives are altered for good. As the world gets increasingly saturated with news of migration, climate change, and geopolitical strife, a deceptively effortless fiction arrives with uncanny relevance. Like all good children’s books, it’s a crucial and urgent story of adventure and overcoming obstacles, with a little help from our friends.

Kensey Coleman’s set design conjures the colorful illustrations of a storybook. Outside the conventional theater boxes painted in earth tones, there’s a soothing mix of colorful fabric surrounding the stage, and two halves of a large circle (where streams of images are projected) frame the stage. Gretchen Dwirges’ striking costume design recalls a sense of nature’s encompassing diversity. And all this is enhanced to near perfection under exquisite lighting by Raulie Martinez, who has quietly but assuredly come into his own as a designer.

I’ve long conceded to the notion of the earth as a unique island in space, infinitely awesome in its natural beauty. It has sprung a leak, growing larger by the minute, while settlers go about their insular lives as though nothing is at stake. Meanwhile, refugees are running for shelter, neighbors are turning on one another, and the parabolic sea rises to demand our collective attention.

YOU AND ME is a sweet story with a cautionary directive. A serious reckoning is long overdue, and hope gets thinner by the minute.

Photo Credit: Tim Fuller

YOU AND ME AND THE SPACE BETWEEN runs through Sunday, April 17.

For tickets, call 520 448-3300 www.scoundrelandscamp.org

Scoundrel and Scamp Theater at The Historic Y
738 N 5th Avenue #131, Tucson, AZ, 85705

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