Love and Information is not a typical play, and MacEwan University’s theatre production took the atypical to a whole new level. The pre-show started with a gas mask-wearing, ukulele-playing singer ushering the audience into the theatre lab. Inside, there were actors reading horoscopes, handing out chocolates, and asking for help with lines.
This slight confusion was just the beginning.
The play consists of over 50 scenes, none of which have a beginning or end or relate to each other in any way. This fragmented form of writing may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it did shine a light on the way our society’s attention spans are becoming shorter.
Although I tend to appreciate a plot when I watch or read something, the actors were engaging and highly animated. There were many times when the actors would join the audience and react to what was happening on stage, something that was shocking at first. For example, there is a scene where one actor is making demands of another like an owner would a pet. It felt strange and uncomfortable to me, yet audience members were saying “aw” and sighing. I was shocked until I realized it was the cast who was actually reacting in this manner.
The scenes ranged from 30 seconds to nearly five minutes and threw the audience into the middle of context-less scenarios, every one to do with love or information. It was interesting to see how the actors chose to play their characters — no matter how briefly they played them. The scenes were actually often about a lack of love or information, or the perversion of them in some cases. This uneasy situation was well executed by the cast who treated the abnormal situations as ordinary, which drew attention to the problems at hand in our modern-day society.
Although the fragmented writing and deluge of nameless characters was purposely written, I did find that it decreased some of the actors’ potentials. I’ve seen some of the cast in other shows and know that they are wonderful performers, but when someone is given 30 seconds to portray an individual character, traits can come across as shallow or generic.
The production, overall, was well executed and the cast did a great job with what they were given. Caryl Churchill’s writing may not be for everyone, but it’s always good to experience new illustrations of civilization, and new ways of understanding love and information.