Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Love and Information

Part sketch comedy, part minimalist drama(s), Caryl Churchill's Love and Information is unlike any show I've seen. Consisting of dozens of playlets, some barely a minute long, Love and Information amasses emotion, insight, and yearning bit by bit, line by line.

Top row: Irene Sofia Lucio, Noah Galvin
Bottom row: Karen Kandel, Adante Power, Zoë Winters,
James Waterston, Lucas Caleb Rooney
Photo: Joan Marcus

Take, for example, this section, called "Grief."
Are you sleeping?

I wake up early but that’s all right in the summer.


Oh enough. Dont fuss.

I’ve never had someone die.

I’m sorry, I’ve nothing to say. Nothing seems very interesting.

He must have meant everything to you.

Maybe. We’ll see.

That's it. That's the whole thing, verbatim. In the New York Theatre Workshop production (at the Minetta Lane), which is beautifully directed by James MacDonald, it's performed by a young woman sitting in a chair and an older women on the floor, folding and putting away sweaters. It is a masterpiece of concision--one of many!

The set is a highly lit white box with horizontal and vertical lines crossing throughout. There are no visible doors. Each scene has a piece of furniture or a prop or two. As they zip by, your respect for the stage manager (Christine Catti) and crew grows and grows.

My respect for and enjoyment of the writing also grew and grew. Love and Information is a brilliant exploration of human interaction in the 21st century. Churchill shows us love, trust, and disappointment and demonstrates how and why "only connect" remains a goal rather than an achievement for most people. She echos "Yes, I Remember It Well" from Gigi, examines the Capgras delusion, and seemingly anticipates the movie "Her," all with breathtaking economy. Her people are old and young, of various ethic groups/races and classes, smart and silly, but all deliciously, sadly human.

Love and Information is a theatrical essay on perception, with each concept given its own miniplay. And the whole is significantly bigger than the sum of the parts; through humor, insight, and heartbreak, Churchill makes you feel the concepts involved.

The superb cast is Phillip James Brannon, Randy Danson, Susannah Flood, Noah Galvin, Jennifer Ikeda, Karen Kandel, Irene Sofia Lucio, Nate Miller, Kellie Overbey, Adante Power, John Procaccino, Lucas Caleb Rooney, Maria Tucci, James Waterston, and Zoë Winters.

The scenic design by Miriam Buether and costume design by Gabriel Berry and Andrea Hood enhance the show perfectly. The lighting by Peter Mumford does what it is supposed to do, but it's tough on one's eyes and gave me a headache. The sound by Christopher Shutt is practically another character and is quite effective.

Overall, Love and Information is another brilliant gift from Caryl Churchill, superbly presented by all involved.

(row L center; press ticket)

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