Love and Information
Caryl Churchill's latest explores humanity in the midst of technological inundation
Reviewed by Adam Roberts, Fri., Oct. 3, 2014
Love and Information
Mary Moody Northen Theatre at St. Edward’s University
Through Oct. 5.
Running Time: 1 hr., 30 min.
Jeopardy-style clues loop on four large screens around the upper perimeter of the Mary Moody Northen Theatre. From the base of their platforms hang strings of oversized 1s and 0s. The stage has certainly been set for the "Information" side of famed playwright Caryl Churchill's recent work, currently receiving its regional premiere courtesy of St. Edward's University. But what about love?
That's precisely the question Churchill investigates in the over 50 scenes that comprise her rapid-fire play, which features over one hundred characters portrayed by 14 actors in director David Long's staging for MMNT. Now, 50 scenes may seem like a lot; but they pass by at such an extreme tempo that it's hard to believe 90 minutes have elapsed when the curtain call comes around. As a prime example of the writing dictum "content determines form," the structure and pace of Love and Information bring to consciousness the fleetingness of life's moments as magnified all the more by technology and our "need to know." What about love, for instance, when your partner feels compelled to jump out of bed in the middle of the night to check Facebook, or you aren't able to lead a private home life with the paparazzi banging at your door?
These are just two scenarios Churchill chooses to explore in what might at first appear a disconnected mishmash of encounters. But disconnectedness itself quickly emerges as the central theme at hand. Even when one pieces together what might be considered a through-line of characters portrayed by Equity guest artists Janelle Buchanan and Rick Roemer, emotional distance remains the cornerstone of their relationship. One gets the idea that Churchill might be suggesting, "Life is fleeting. Relationships are frail enough entities without the disconnectedness and distraction that technology promotes."
But technology is not entirely vilified in Love and Information. For instance, there's a scene where home movies of weddings are shown, with commentary from one character that the existence of technology allows for us to remember events we might otherwise forget. Of course, this leads the observer to the question of whether we've become so dependent on technology that our own internal processing for memory has begun to deteriorate.
At the end of the night, there are more questions than answers from Caryl Churchill and the amazingly stamina-filled company of actors and technicians who bring her scenes to life. But since then, I haven't been able to stop noticing a few more details in my surroundings. Amidst all the information with which we are surrounded in every minute of every day, I've been reminded that we mustn't forget to love life in the present tense.