By Jackson Alvey (Guest Reviewer)
In this creative tale written by Finegan Kruckemeyer, whose work is no stranger to the Scoundrel & Scamp stage, You and Me and the Space Between, directed by Susan Arnold, transports us into the isolated world of the Proud Island people. Actor Emily Fuchs brings Proud Island to us, as they describe the day to day life of a Proud Island native on the small floating country. Her fiery-haired character is the first to question the rigid traditions that everyone else on the island, specifically the loud and opinionated adults, follow blindly. Oscar De La Rocha, Amanda Lopez-Castillo, Gretchen Wirges, and Emily Gates deliver great character work, each playing multiple islanders. We are transported further into their world as Maddie Hill’s foley artistry creates sound effects and adds an extra level of believability to the actors’ presentation of their world.
Right off the bat, when their beloved island that floats like an apple (not sinking like a pear would) springs a leak, all on the island are sent into a frenzied panic, not understanding what has happened and having no tools to help them fix it. Emily Fuchs’ character takes a deep breath and suggests what no one ever has before: maybe, just maybe, there’s more to the world than just their beloved floating home. Her idea is immediately protested by the island’s older citizens, but she is able to persuade them through the logic and support of her mother, played in that scene by Amanda Lopez-Castillo. Soon enough, they work together to turn the island into a giant boat, using their resources to create oars and row on to the unknown. Projection of real waves onto the set makes me believe I’m on the island-boat with them, as the sound of waves crashing from Maddie Hill heightens the sensory experience.
As dawn rises on a new day using warm lighting design, the Proud Island people crash into another island inhabited by the Long Cliff people. They are met at first with love and support, and then with discrimination and violence from some of the disapproving Long Cliff islanders. The show dives into themes of teamwork and community, as well as discrimination and hardships faced by immigrants and refugees seeking a better life. We witness the beauty of shared language and culture as their two worlds are brought together and traditions are broken. We feel frustrated as they experience acts of hatred from the Long Cliff people, but happy as Proud Island adults decide to explore the new world, forging the way for others to feel comfortable doing the same. Credit is never given to Emily Fuch’s character though they deserve it, but being a shy individual, she is not upset to be in the background – she merely wants to know that she’s made a difference.
Overall, despite some plot holes (what happened to the leaks in the island?) the story is written well, and the actors really bring it to life beautifully. Direction from Susan Arnold makes the story believable and clean, costumes by Gretchen Wirges evoked a sense of unity and creative curiosity, with features reminiscent of the ocean and island itself. Aside from microphone issues and feeling like I was missing concrete or specific story resolution, I left feeling satisfied with the lessons of community-building and staying true to yourself that were present throughout. It was done really well, and my only complaint was that in a story inspired by Pacific Islanders that centered on themes of diversity and inclusion, the majority of the cast were not AAPI or BIPOC aside from Amanda Lopez-Castillo and Oscar De La Rocha. Though the lessons and themes were still delivered successfully, I felt a more diverse cast would have brought an extra level of authenticity and perspective to the piece that I felt was missing.
Overall, if you’re looking for a lighthearted family show that teaches valuable lessons about family; diversity, equity, and inclusion; listening to your heart; and valuing your roots; this show is for you. I thoroughly enjoyed the performance and I left thinking about how I might be able to follow my own heart more often, be more inclusive, and take a risk in order to discover a whole new world outside of my own limited view.
You and Me and the Space Between runs through April 17 at The Scoundrel & Scamp Theatre. For showtimes and tickets, please visit https://scoundrelandscamp.org/you-and-me-and-the-space-between or call the box office at (520) 448-3300. S&S is requiring patrons to wear masks indoors and to show EITHER proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID test at the time of check-in. For their full health policies, please visit https://scoundrelandscamp.org/health-and-safety.