may 2018 | Volume 167
Patti Allan and Lois Anderson. Set design by Amir Ofek, costume design by Barbara Clayden, and lighting design by Conor Moore. Photo by David Cooper.
Me and You is a little gem of a play, a journey through a life of sisterhood with two superb actresses, beautifully directed by Mindy Parfitt with a terrific design palette. Melody Anderson’s script is smart and funny in a minimalist way, and her half-masks give the show a whole other dimension. Anderson is a master mask designer and the actors remain behind her expressive masks throughout, only their eyes and mouths showing.
Patti Allan plays the older Liz and Lois Anderson is her kid sister, Lou. From the start, even as children, Liz is straighter and more serious. She’ll get a university degree and a husband. Lou becomes an artist, a bohemian and a joker, goes to Paris, has love affairs. But as the sisters age, their lives increasingly converge.
Amir Ofek’s marvelous set consists of walls of drawers. The play progresses in a series of short scenes, and as time passes between the scenes the sisters go to the drawers and pull out costume pieces (nice work by Barbara Clayden) that mark both historical and personal changes. Conor Moore’s moody lighting and Owen Belton’s resonant music cover the scene changes and help move things forward.
The acting is subtle, sweet, funny and finally moving. Parfitt paces the show perfectly and gives it lots of variety. And the masks do range of things. They suggest how much the two sisters remain the same people from childhood through maturity. They give the characters a quality almost mythic at times, cartoonish at others. They make us listen attentively to vocal tone and pitch, and notice subtle eye movements.
The Arts Club’s Silver Commissions Project has really shown its value this season in the fine new work gracing the company’s smaller stages. This show should be seen as one of the final tributes to Bill Millerd’s long tenure as Arts Club artistic director. Bravo to everyone involved.
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