Theatre Review: “Love and Information” is a well-acted mosaic that misses the bigger picture
Caryl Churchill’s 2012 play, Love and Information, is “a series of vignettes, featuring over 100 characters in over 50 disconnected scenes”, about how humans learn, communicate, and connect. This adaptation is presented by Hand in Hand Theatre, and directed by Claire Mosel-Crossley, with 8 actors filling the multitude of roles that each scene brings.
Much like Buddhism, the Jedi Code, and an overloaded email, Love and Information doesn’t allow for attachments. The vignettes, which vary in length from only a few seconds to several minutes, introduce characters and stories that (with the exception of one recurring character played by the enigmatic Philip Hutton), last for a single scene and are never returned to. The 8 actors are dressed as blank canvases, in their simple white tops and blue denim pants, ready to have their new roles projected onto them. The stage is also a blank slate (excepting the 8 white wheeled boxes used to represent chairs and tables), which begs the audience to fill the space with their imaginations.
While it tries hard to be a fast-moving kaleidoscope of humanity, it’s often hard to grasp if Love and Information is trying to create a bigger picture from these fragments. For audiences who are used to plays consisting of a clear, continuing narrative, this dizzying array of constantly fluctuating plots and characters can seem more like a confusing collage of random snapshots.
The effect is compounded by the show being split into chapters, each marked by the removal of the simple scenery, and the introduction of a dancer (Nashy Md), who moves sinuously around the stage to music. Behind her, (but sometimes drawing attention away from her), a screen displays projections without context. They seem unrelated at first, but eventually we realise that they are all visual snippets of modern technology being used to learn information, express something, or communicate with others. During the dance, the 7 other actors sit behind their white boxes, their faces lit only by their mobile phones. Is this a criticism of modern communication technologies? A resigned acceptance of them? The show itself seems unsure. The audience is presented with a vague sense of theme with no clear statement.
Love and Information is nonetheless redeemed by the chameleonic performances of its cast, who effortlessly step into each new skin, bringing life and, at times, truly touching emotion, to their roles. Andrew Kocsis, Beth Williams, Carlos Sivalingam, Caroline McDonnell, Domenic Scriva, Nashy Md, Philip Hutton, and Tijana Simich are the much needed human element in Love and Information that, ironically, I would have liked to have seen more of.
Elevated by the theatrical skill of its actors, but rendered disjointed by its lack of a clear, overarching message, Love and Information is like a group of stars that burns brightly, but is left without something to join the dots and make sense of them.
3 out of 5 stars.
Love and Information plays at the Subiaco Arts Centre until July 27th. For tickets and more information, click here.