Caryl Churchill’s form-defying Love and Information is making its regional debut at the Crucible Studio fittingly in the midst of a seemingly endless heatwave, as the nation is all but perma-drunk on World Cup optimism and Love Island chatter.
What’s the connection, I hear you ask, between an avant-garde production about relationships and (mis)communication and summer 2018, a season defined by an unprecedented outpouring of emotions, hyper-accelerated relationships and a much-needed departure from reality? There might just be something in it.
Directed by Caroline Steinbeis, the swirling slideshow of vignettes touch on themes of relationships and truth-telling (or, rather, love and information) in all their various iterations. The ensemble cast portray over 100 different characters throughout the 1 hour 45 minute duration, some skits lasting mere seconds, some going on to deliberately uncomfortable lengths. Sometimes they segue seamlessly, sometimes they stop and change abruptly. Nothing is quite as it seems, as a pair of monks gossip and giggle mischievously, a close-to-the bone scene set in a care home reveals itself to be a television studio. Sometimes the characters talk in clipped half-sentences. The audience is asked to fill in the blanks, but sometimes it's impossible.
Regardless of the gaps of logic in these tightly plotted episodes, we absolutely get the gist of what’s going on:
Two old lovers reconnect on a park bench. They don’t have any of the same memories. Are they who they think they are?
A backpacker impresses two women in a bar with his total recall skills. They find it impossibly hilarious.
Three pin-up girls (Russia, America and the UK) discuss the Iraq war.