Rectangular boxes against a giant white expanse and an array of coloured lights; this is what audiences see as they sit down to watch Caryl Churchill’s play Love and Information. Sitting down, with a mind free from bias or opinions from online reviews, I expect to watch an ordinary show with a linear storyline and character development. But my pre-conceived conceptions couldn’t have been any more wrong.
Directed by Kip Williams, the Malthouse Theatre and Sydney Theatre Company co-production is very much as blank as it’s white rectangles. The production presents a series of more than 50 vignettes, which are self-contained and have no obvious connections, conditioning the brains of audiences to become autonomous and fill in the blanks by coming up with their own conclusions.
Eight actors play over 100 characters, with no reoccurring characters nor a continuous thread to connect the random scenes. What you see is what you get: 50 random scenes, some mere seconds long, with dialogue of only a few words. I this found bizarre – both during and after the show, and I questioned what the artistic flare in displaying 50 disjointed scenes is.
In one scene, Anita Hegh throws a ball to a dog. Later, Alison Whyte spends several minutes as a Neanderthal statue in a museum display. Ursula Yovich confronts her boss who fired her over email. And as each scene changes, the set correspondingly follows.
David Fleischer’s set of movable, rectangular blocks provides an avenue of transition into a new scene and it is visually effective. Audiences see before their eyes the scene literally changing and this sparks intrigue, as well as a constant itch to know what’s going on; the need for more information.
But Churchill’s play, of course doesn’t let anything slip. As a viewer, you’re on your toes the whole time, waiting in anticipation for some kind of revelation, for the whole philosophical puzzle of scenes to piece together, to find that linking thread. But it never comes.
The allusiveness is what ultimately keeps viewers engaged and it’s the artistry within the play. Although I was disappointed to find there was no revelation tying all the loose threads together, at the same time that was precisely the point.
The artistic flare in these 50 disjointed scenes is that love and information remain dichotomous. They are two different threads in the journey of life and the poignancy in this play is watching how the ordinary person tackles the events life throws.
In the performance’s denouement Alison Whyte sits under falling snow in sorrow, at what appears to be a funeral. It’s emotional, unpredictable and somehow almost sums up life all together. However, I must admit the play overall was a little too allusive.
Expect the unexpected from Love and Information. Expect to be on your toes waiting for a revelation in anticipation and then expect to be confused and bewildered about what you’re watching.
Love and Information has finished its Melbourne run of shows but is now being performed at Sydney’s Wharf 2 Theatre until August 15th. More information available on their website.
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