Assistant Director Caitlin McLeod and actors Nikki Amuka-Bird, Linda Bassett and Justin Salinger in discussion with the Royal Court’s Associate Director, Simon G...… Read more
Someone sneezes. Someone can’t get a signal. Someone shares a secret. Someone won’t answer the door. Someone put an elephant on the stairs. Someone’s not ready to talk. Someone is her brother’s mother. Someone hates irrational numbers. Someone told the police. Someone got a message from the traffic light. Someone’s never felt like this before.
In this fast moving kaleidoscope more than a hundred characters try to make sense of what they know.
Caryl Churchill is one of the UK’s most influential playwrights and her association with the Royal Court dates back to 1972 with her play Owners. Her plays at the Royal Court include Seven Jewish Children, Drunk Enough to Say I Love You, Top Girls, This is a Chair, Far Away, A Number, Cloud Nine and Serious Money.
James Macdonald directs. His previous credits at the Royal Court include Cock, (which is currently running at the Duke on 42nd Street, in New York), Drunk Enough to Say I Love You Dying City, Fewer Emergencies, Lucky Dog, Blood, Blasted, 4.48 Psychosis [including European/US tours]. His other directing credits include King Lear, The Book of Grace, Drunk Enough to Say I Love You (the Public Theater); Top Girls (Broadway/MTC); Dying City (Lincoln Center); A Number (New York Theatre Workshop); And No More Shall We Part (Hampstead Theatre); A Delicate Balance, Judgment Day, The Triumph of Love (Almeida); John Gabriel Borkman (Abbey Theatre Dublin/BAM); Dido, Queen of Carthage, The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other, Exiles (National Theatre), Glengarry Glen Ross (West End), and A Number (New York Theatre Workshop). James MacDonald was Associate Director of the Royal Court from 1992 to 2007.
Running time 1hr 45mins approx, no interval.
There will be two free Building and Backstage Tours on 22 September at 10:30am and 12pm. Spaces are limited and must be booked in advance.
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Dates in September
|Thu 6 Sep 2012||8:00pm||Concessions Available||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£28, £20, £12|
|Fri 7 Sep 2012||8:00pm||Concessions Available||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£28, £20, £12|
|Sat 8 Sep 2012||8:00pm||Concessions Available||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£28, £20, £12|
|Mon 10 Sep 2012||8:00pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£10|
|Tue 11 Sep 2012||8:00pm||Concessions Available||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£28, £20, £12|
|Wed 12 Sep 2012||8:00pm||Concessions Available||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£28, £20, £12|
|Thu 13 Sep 2012||8:00pm||Concessions Available||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£28, £20, £12|
|Fri 14 Sep 2012||7:00pm||Press Night||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs|
|Sat 15 Sep 2012||2:00pm||Concessions Available, Saturday Matinees||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£28, £20, £12|
|Sat 15 Sep 2012||8:00pm||Concessions Available||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£28, £20, £12|
|Mon 17 Sep 2012||8:00pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£10|
|Tue 18 Sep 2012||8:00pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£28, £20, £12|
|Wed 19 Sep 2012||8:00pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£28, £20, £12|
|Thu 20 Sep 2012||8:00pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£28, £20, £12|
|Fri 21 Sep 2012||8:00pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£28, £20, £12|
|Sat 22 Sep 2012||2:00pm||Concessions Available, Saturday Matinees||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£28, £20, £12|
|Sat 22 Sep 2012||8:00pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£28, £20, £12|
|Mon 24 Sep 2012||8:00pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£10|
|Tue 25 Sep 2012||8:00pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£28, £20, £12|
|Wed 26 Sep 2012||8:00pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£28, £20, £12|
|Thu 27 Sep 2012||2:00pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs|
|Thu 27 Sep 2012||8:00pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£28, £20, £12|
|Fri 28 Sep 2012||8:00pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£28, £20, £12|
|Sat 29 Sep 2012||2:00pm||Concessions Available, Saturday Matinees||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£28, £20, £12|
|Sat 29 Sep 2012||8:00pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£28, £20, £12|
Dates in October
|Mon 1 Oct 2012||8:00pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£10|
|Tue 2 Oct 2012||8:00pm||Post-Show Talk||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£28, £20, £12|
|Wed 3 Oct 2012||8:00pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£28, £20, £12|
|Thu 4 Oct 2012||2:00pm||Concessions Available, Mid-Week Matinee||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£28, £20, £12|
|Thu 4 Oct 2012||8:00pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£28, £20, £12|
|Fri 5 Oct 2012||8:00pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£28, £20, £12|
|Sat 6 Oct 2012||2:00pm||Concessions Available, Saturday Matinees||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£28, £20, £12|
|Sat 6 Oct 2012||8:00pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£28, £20, £12|
|Mon 8 Oct 2012||8:00pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£10|
|Tue 9 Oct 2012||8:00pm||Post-Show Talk||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£28, £20, £12|
|Wed 10 Oct 2012||8:00pm||Captioned Performance||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£28, £20, £12|
|Thu 11 Oct 2012||2:00pm||Concessions Available, Mid-Week Matinee||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£28, £20, £12|
|Thu 11 Oct 2012||8:00pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£28, £20, £12|
|Fri 12 Oct 2012||8:00pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£28, £20, £12|
|Sat 13 Oct 2012||2:00pm||Concessions Available, Audio Described Performance, Saturday Matinees||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£28, £20, £12|
|Sat 13 Oct 2012||8:00pm||Jerwood Theatre Downstairs||£28, £20, £12|
Sold out Performances
Tickets £28, £20, £12
Mondays all seats £10 (available in advance to Friends and Supporters and on the day of the performance from 9am online)
Concessions £5 off top two prices* (available in advance for all performances until Saturday 15 September inclusive and all matinees. For all other performances, available on a standby basis on the day)
25s and under £8* (available on £20 and £12 tickets)
School and HE Groups of 8+ 50% off top two prices (available Tuesday-Friday)
Groups of 6+ £5 off top price (available Tuesday-Friday)
Access £12 (plus a companion at the same rate) *ID required. All discounts are subject to availability
4 stars The Guardian by Michael Billington, 15 September 2012
Caryl Churchill’s new play has 57 scenes, runs 110 minutes and employs 16 actors to play more than 100 characters. Too much information?
But one of the many points made by this exhilarating theatrical kaleidoscope is that we live in a world where information bombardment is in danger of leading to atrophy of memory, erosion of privacy and decay of feeling.
What is extraordinary about Churchill is her capacity as a dramatist to go on reinventing the wheel. All her plays, from Owners to A Number and Far Away, are formal experiments, and on this occasion she has come up with something that feels like an intimate revue written by Wittgenstein.
Occasionally, as in a cryptic sketch about a woman flummoxed by a multilingual waiter who knows endless words for “table”, it is very funny. But what I detect in Churchill is a deep sense of political and personal unease about a society in which speed of communication replaces human connections.
That is manifested in scenes showing we don’t always know how to cope with the information available.
In Climate, a woman expresses her fear of the impact of global catastrophe on future generations while her mother blithely hangs lights on a Christmas tree.
In Earthquake, set in a noisy cocktail bar, a man registers his horror at a recent tsunami to a woman for whom it is simply a series of TV images.
Both scenes, like all of Churchill’s 57 varieties, gain immeasurably in power from the way James Macdonald’s production gives them a specific social context.
But Churchill deals with the private as well as the public consequences of living in a dizzyingly changing world. The mordantly funny Virtual depicts a couple on exercise bikes, the man proclaiming of his feminine ideal that “she’s beautiful, she’s intelligent, she understands me” only to reveal that he’s talking about a computer.
This doesn’t mean Churchill’s play is some attack on technology: she is saying that we have to be its master rather than its slave and learn how to how to live with the cascade of fact and opinion.
Churchill’s play, in short, is a humanist document that, in Macdonald’s dazzling production, makes vivid use of theatre’s technical resources.
Miriam Buether’s white-walled chamber set which opens and closes like a camera shutter, Christopher Shutt’s variegated sound design and Laura Draper’s stage management ensure that one scene follows another with lightning speed.
And, in a large cast, Amanda Drew, Linda Bassett, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Justin Salinger and Paul Jesson, are among those who make a decisive impact. Each spectator will have a different vision of what this defiantly nonlinear show is really about.
For me, Churchill suggests, with compassionate urgency, that our insatiable appetite for knowledge needs to be informed by our capacity for love.
5 stars Mail on Sunday by Georgina Brown, 23 September 2012
Caryl Churchill’s astonishing new piece, Love and Information, is a blast of 58 playlets. Each is very short, witty and poignant, a tiny, detailed snapshot of two people talking and exploring the relationship between facts and feelings. In every playlet – some no more than fragmentary exchanges of sentences – a piece of information is dropped, like a stone into a pond, leaving the ripples to be imagined by the audience.
A girl tells a boy that she’s his mum, not his sister. A schizophrenic says a traffic light is telling her to hurt someone. A woman learns she has a ten per cent chance of being alive in three years. A savant can recall every detail of any particular day. A man insists he’s in love with a computer-generated woman. Another man tells his girlfriend he is infertile.
Churchill’s theme is how we feel about specific, unalterable truths, be it impersonal stuff such as climate change, or the profoundly personal, such as the death of a husband.
James MacDonald’s dazzling, playful production makes the piece a human experiment in which an outstanding cast bring each situation to vivid life inside a clinical white cube that is suggestive of a lab. The effect is similar to TV channel-hopping, as one catches a fleeting glimpse of dozens of different little dramas, each suggesting enough material for a ten-part series.
This joyous, exhilarating example of less proving infinitely more is easily my play and production of the year. 4 stars Independent on Sunday by Kate Bassett, 23 September 2012
In Love and Information – Caryl Churchill’s radically fragmentary new play, directed by James Macdonald – you see myriad characters as if by flashes of lightning, some 50 snapshots swiftly plunging into darkness. The scenes are disconnected but with some teasing, possible links emerge. There are lovers wanting to know everything or wishing they hadn’t asked; jobbing torturers, taking a fag break, not bothered if what they extract is the truth; cases of neurological malfunctions; a delusional schizophrenic; a rational cynic unable to understand another’s religious convictions; a lefty intellectual claiming she “always knew” Tony Blair’s warmongering excuse was “all made up”.
By the end, I didn’t feel I had learnt much. Indeed, anyone who has read V S Ramachandran or Oliver Sacks will recognise the neurological case histories reduced, here, to little more than sound bites. But to complain that Love and Information lacks depth is to miss the point. Churchill is ruminating – satirically and movingly, too – on how little most people know of each other or themselves. As it progresses, the piece also touches on big issues, from genetics to free will. Mini-dialogues are fleshed out by the cast with such pin-sharp naturalism that you are able to read a character in a millisecond. Designer Miriam Buether and the Royal Court’s technical crew deserve an award, to boot, for the miraculous scene changes, where double beds and lawns and café tables materialise with the ease of a dream.
4 stars The Sunday Times by Maxie Szalwinska, 23 September 2012
Caryl Churchill is a playwright of astonishing versatility, with an ability to pull one structurally inventive script after another out of her top hat. What would her next trick be? A stream of 60 or so short, seemingly unrelated scenes involving more than 100 characters. Watching is rather like brainy channel-surfing: the scenes, played out in a glowing white cube, flick rapidly by. So what if bits of it drive you up the wall? This is a mischievous rebuke to the age of broadband information glut, in which love and human connection get pushed to the periphery. The play and James Macdonald’s beady direction draw our attention to the difficulty of processing what’s going on in the world (and in our lives from moment to moment), but you have to make your own sense of it.
4 stars The Times by Dominic Maxwell, 16 September 2012
Would any other living playwright get this kind of treatment? Would any other living playwright so deserve it? Caryl Churchill’s latest work, her first full-length effort for six years, is made up of 58 scenes with a recurring theme — see title for details — but no recurring characters. You could call it a sketch show, I suppose. But not only does James Macdonald’s magnificent production honour each sketch or scene as if it were a play in itself, but Churchill also explores the wonky interplay between knowledge and emotion in a way that’s amusing, yes, but also absorbing, resonant and even affecting.
The cast of 16 appear in mostly two-handed scenes in which Macdonald fleshes out Churchill’s blank text — no characters assigned, no locations given — with precise, contemporary social contexts. In Affair, two friends warm up for a jog while he tries to broach the subject of the affair he knows that her partner is having. Table looks at semantics and identity in one pithy scene, with a perfect punchline, between a customer and a waiter. Each scene — some just seconds long — is a glimpse into a fully realised world. Apart from anything else, it’s an astonishing technical achievement: behind Miriam Buether’s cell-like set there are more prop and costume changes than at a Lady Gaga show.
More importantly, Love and Information builds. As the first of the 100-plus characters come and go, and you try to work out what the rules are here, you might suspect that Churchill’s exalted status has allowed her just to stick some ideas direct from notebook to stage. And, sure, not everything sings. Yet the more the themes become apparent, the more it feels like a unified piece. Churchill shows us connecting with facts and ideas more readily than we connect with how things really are — with each other. A family finds that their thoughts of their wedding day are now limited to what was captured on video that day. A pair of exes meet and find that their memories of their affair have split into two separate stories.
So she shows us our facts and our needs. She gives us disconnection, diatribes, depression, relishable details. This is the human machine, lying in bits on her workshop table. It’s intellectually dazzling, but never show-offy. One scene, Grief, presents a widow struggling with the limits of language and self-knowledge while a friend’s efforts to be kind miss the point, even appear selfish. In eight lines! Another, Virtual, is about falling in love with a computer — that old chestnut! — yet gives the idea fresh purchase.
It’s all acted with a sure touch by a cast including Nikki Amuka-Bird, Linda Bassett, Amanda Drew, Laura Elphinstone, John Heffernan, Justin Salinger, Rhashan Stone and Josh Williams. And it confirms once again that Churchill, now 74, is a playwright of phenomenal scope and skill.
4 stars The Independent by Paul Taylor, 17 September 2012
A producer obsessed with robots goes to a festival with a toy theme but dresses up as a ball baring?…
01:0 unhappy but in your leg?” asks the young boy who can feel emotion but has no experience or conception of pain. This is not the only time that the thought-experiments of Wittgenstein spring to mind when watching Caryl Churchill’s uneven but highly stimulating new revue of a play.
Perfectly illustrating the notion of a language-game, there’s a sharp vignette on a plane where a women airily boasts that she“always knew” that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq “because of what America is like” and she flatly refuses to see that wanting something to be true is not the same as knowing it to be so, even if turns out to be right.
What is it to know something? Is it better know things or not to know things? What has our world of information-overload done to our capacity to feel and to remember and to our idea of privacy?
Churchill airs these questions in a swift-footed, witty, sometimes haunting, show that is itself a calculated and droll example of information-overload. Breathtakingly well-directed by James Macdonald, it unfolds in fifty-seven black-out sketches in which a superlatively versatile sixteen-strong cast play over a hundred non-recurring characters.
Performed on Miriam Buether’s clinical white-cube set, each piece has a slightly hallucinatory distinctness. The text is bare of stage directions, so it is Macdonald who has imaginatively fleshed out the contexts (gym, cocktail bar, sauna, remote farm with no mobile signal etc) in which these encounters occur.
So, among many other things, a family sit watching an old wedding video and discover that they now can’t remember anything about the day that is not in the recording. A man on an exercise bike is adamant that his virtual girlfriend can give him love. “She’s just information” protests his interlocutor. “And what are you if you’re not?” he rejoins, as though human beings were no more than sets of genetic instructions.
As always with Churchill, there is a brilliant instinct for the absurd. Having elicited from her prodigiously multilingual waiter a slew of foreign words for “table” – “trapezi stol mesa meza tarang tabulka”– an old lady cheerfully swats aside any suspicion of cultural relativity: “I can’t help feeling that it is a table”.
“Knowledge comes but wisdom stays,” wrote Tennyson. Dramatising a world where we have faster and faster access to more and more data but can lose our grip on the human meaning, Churchill has spiritedly updated that maxim.
4 stars Time Out by Caroline McGinn
Caryl Churchill and Tom Stoppard are our greatest living playwrights. But while Stoppard is spending his seventies polishing dodgy film scripts (‘Robin Hood’) and writing for the telly (‘Parade’s End’), Churchill is spending hers evolving in the theatre, where her writing is still defined by its ability to change faster than a world which seems to be mutating faster than ever before.
Her new 110-minute drama deploys more than 100 characters in 60-odd micro-scenes – and James Macdonald’s production, set by Miriam Buether in a white box, flicks brightly through them, using its lavish resources to make its 16-strong cast act in what looks and feels like a giant iPad.
The play – which shows a bit of love via a different bit of information in each scene – is totally alert to the increasingly byte-sized packaging of human content. And it’s wide open to its director: Macdonald localises the high, repetitive concept and makes it funny wherever possible.
A play with no major character (and therefore no minor ones) is hostage to the inevitable unevenness of an ensemble of this size. Amanda Drew, Linda Bassett. Laura Elphinstone, Susan Engel and Sarah Woodward are so strong and different that I’d love to see them have dinner together in Churchill’s ‘Top Girls’, which premiered here 30 years ago and remains theatre’s definitive answer to Thatcherism.
Next to ‘Top Girls’, ‘Love and Information’ is a minor work by a major dramatist. The vignettes stand or fall on their punchlines: their tweet-length dialogue gives – and teasingly withholds – information but they struggle to convey love, which needs more time. The best scene, in which a woman (Drew) tries to memorise a series of lists and is surprised by a long-lost memory of her father, is one of the longest in the play.
Like Churchill’s major plays, ‘Love and Information’ experiments vividly with time and space, and shows how the prevailing mental structures of our daily life (formerly capitalism; now technology) are fictions. And this play, like so many of her others, is genuinely different from anything she’s written before.
4 stars The Telegraph by Charles Spencer, 17 September 2012
“The wit, invention and structural ingenuity of Churchill’s work are remarkable and, like the sexual tease in the Sondheim song, she never does anything twice.”
“Now, 74, Churchill has once again come up with a work that takes its audience by surprise. Love and Information packs more than 50 scenes into less than two hours and features a superb cast of 16 playing more than a hundred characters.”
“…James Macdonald directs a dazzling slick and sharp production. Scene follows scene with amazing speed, each punctuated with a brief black-out. Designer Miriam Buether establishes locations with minimalist panache, and the outstanding acting company, ranging from youngsters to oldies bring their sketchily drawn characters to vivid, persuasive life.”
The New York Times by Matt Wolf, 2 October 2012
Caryl Churchill, the pioneering English dramatist…is forever toying with the form of theater, not just the content.
And here she is with “Love and Information” at the Royal Court Theatre, the dramatist’s longstanding London home, offering a multitude of scenes that in some cases are all of a single line or even a fragment thereof. James Macdonald’s surpassingly clever production offers up both a puzzle play in overdrive — it’s up to the spectator to piece Ms. Churchill’s dramatic shards together — and the collective exhilaration that comes from watching a risk-taking playwright continuing to push the boundaries of the craft. No, make that art. (The play is joined this week by a short and unrelated curtain-raiser from Ms. Churchill, “Ding Dong the Wicked.”)
Her concerns, implicit in the choice of title, have to do with the accumulation and accretion of information — both knowledge itself and how it gets delivered to us. Told as a mosaic of (mostly) duologues, the play provides a tantalizing patchwork of people at moments of crisis, indecision, elation and despair, though some of the vignettes’ specifics are sufficiently open to debate that after one recent performance four audience members had as many guesses as to where exactly the final scene takes place. (The stage at that juncture shows clinical furnishings and people’s heads frantically buried in books.)
The 16-member cast enter into the almost Joycean spirit of an occasion that lets Ms. Churchill tip the nod to herself — spot the glancing references to “Top Girls” and “A Number,” as well as Edward Bond’s trailblazing “Saved.” And they share production honors with a sound design from Christopher Shutt that conveys numerous milieus, whether a sauna or a bathroom or something poolside, with startling dispatch.
Feeling gets its due, as well, as is to be expected from a play whose title puts love first. Ms. Churchill in the past has often taken a grim view of humankind and its prospects, but those sentiments are less pervasive here. “Love and Information” bristles with intellect and the odd admonition but feels unexpectedly hopeful, too. Is Britain’s leading theatrical maverick mellowing? In the language of her own play, how are we to know?
The Observer by Susannah Clapp, 23 September 2012
Another Royal Court command: Love and Information is a play that everyone should see. Once again Caryl Churchill has lit on a central subject and found an unexpected dramatic form. In Top Girls she sent feminism time-travelling; in Serious Money she made the economy rhyme. Now she looks at knowledge, of the heart and the mind. She does so in a series of scintillations. More than 50 small episodes speed after each other – fleet, funny and intellectually agile – in the white-tiled cube designed by Miriam Buether.
A lusciously robed ballroom dancer glides into adultery; straining on an exercise bike, a man urges the advantages of a virtual lover; youths sprawl on a vertical lawn, with one speaking (how?) while hanging upside down. Most scenes involve only two people; some have no more than one spoken line and one non-reaction. Yet the range and incisiveness of the exchanges is immense. They ask how we know what we know: by the accumulation of facts or by leaps of faith, by analysis or intuition, scrutiny or affection? They show how peculiar it is to use the same verb for knowing a person and knowing a fact. They weigh up the advantages of forgetting and of remembering. They co-opt the audience by teasing it about its own lack of knowledge, cutting off an exchange just as a secret is to be disclosed. The spectators become part of the inquiry: how do we know what it is we are seeing?
It is a high-wire act, this combination of probing abstraction and precise hard-edged realism. Every scene has an intellectual point but every scene is fleshed out, inflected and acted with a wonderful modest transparency. The credit has to be shared. In Churchill’s text, wit floats without context: there are no stage directions. It is the marvellous director, James Macdonald, who has given these animated scenes their social particularity, steering them towards comic twist or bleak revelation, letting emotion swell alongside the metaphysics. Meanwhile, the technical dazzle is an entertainment of its own, with one utterly different episode slamming down after another, divided by a blackout and Christopher Shutt’s witty, mysterious soundscape: birdsong, the grunting snuffle of a beast, the Archers signature tune, urban whine. Count on Churchill.
Variety by David Benedict, 17 September 2012
Is “Love and Information” the funniest and sharpest sketch show in town or theater’s most audacious enquiry into the nature of how we perceive and navigate our way through the world? Both. Aside from the sheer verve and pace of James Macdonald’s scintillating production, what makes Caryl Churchill’s latest play so exhilarating is the way she makes audiences complicit in its undoubted success.
Peter Mumford’s bright light snaps up on an unnamed couple revealed in a pristine, graph-paper-like white box, one of whom (Amit Shah) is begging the other (Nikki Amuka-Bird) to reveal a secret. She’s intent on withholding it and the tension between them is as gripping as it is immediate. Despite his amusing entreaties, she stands firm, but then she caves in, only to whisper it into his ear. He is stunned and, barely one minute into the play, terrified: “Now what?” he cries, to be greeted by an instant blackout.
Seconds later, the lights are back up with a completely different couple in a wholly different situation in the same white box. And that’s the format for the entire play. Self-conscious as that might sound, it’s exactly like watching a quick-fire comedy sketch show. Presented with fresh characters and situations one after another — Macdonald’s 16 actors play 100 characters in 58 fleet scenes — audiences get better and better at playing detective, grabbing cunningly planted clues in the form of snippets of often laugh-out-loud dialogue and vividly presented relationships.
Solving the puzzle as to who, where and what is happening in each snapshot scene, several lasting barely 30 seconds, is part of the fun. Sometimes it’s Laura Hopkins’ expressive costumes that tell you everything you need to know, as in Amanda Drew’s sudden appearance in a ludicrously fuchsia ballgown with her dancing partner. At other times, audiences are clued-in by Christopher Shutt’s immediately evocative sound design, which cunningly ushers in each scene and sets up expectations or locations via found and created sounds and aural atmospheres.
Yet for all the droll comedy of the juxtapositions in this kaleidoscope of contemporary duos — friends, enemies, lovers, strangers, patients, colleagues, children, parents — Churchill’s cumulative vision is often bleak. She paints a huge group portrait of people struggling to pay attention. In a world delighted, nay obsessed, by information coming at us faster and faster, how can we function, listen and love? The fact that characters dealing with depression are laced through the evening suggests that for all the ways we find of surviving, many cannot cope.
What makes the evening triumphant is that such ideas aren’t debated, they’re made flesh. Nor do you need a cultural studies degree to draw conclusions: Her intent is clear theatrically rather than intellectually. The act of watching, of processing the information, is what the play is about. The content, in other words, is indivisible from the play’s unique form.
The achievement of the production is all the more remarkable given that the script is almost completely devoid of stage directions. There are no locations, no named characters, only lines of dialogue. No two productions of this play will resemble another.
Technically, Macdonald’s Royal Court production is a triumph. Part of the abundant pleasure is the sheer speed with which the invisible technical team replace one set with another, fifty-eight times, in lickety-split scene changes. It’s the kind of show you want to see a second time from backstage.
Ever since her gender-switch casting in “Cloud Nine” (1979), which ran two years Off Broadway, the wildly influential Churchill has consistently proven herself to be Britain’s most innovative dramatist. In recent years, she has incorporated approaches routinely used in conceptual art.
The latter is often criticized for offering a recipe rather than a satisfying meal, its ideas more worthwhile than experiencing the work itself. “Love and Information” is a vastly entertaining riposte to all that. Churchill depicts a world increasingly fractured by information overload, with people struggling with the possibility of love and hope. Her dramatic representation of it could not be more intoxicating.
Thu 6 Sep, 8:00pm Fri 7 Sep, 8:00pm Sat 8 Sep, 8:00pm Tue 11 Sep, 8:00pm Wed 12 Sep, 8:00pm Thu 13 Sep, 8:00pm Sat 15 Sep, 2:00pm Sat 15 Sep, 8:00pm Sat 22 Sep, 2:00pm Sat 29 Sep, 2:00pm Thu 4 Oct, 2:00pm Sat 6 Oct, 2:00pm Thu 11 Oct, 2:00pm Sat 13 Oct, 2:00pm
Fri 14 Sep, 7:00pm
Sat 15 Sep, 2:00pm Sat 22 Sep, 2:00pm Sat 29 Sep, 2:00pm Sat 6 Oct, 2:00pm Sat 13 Oct, 2:00pm
Tue 2 Oct, 8:00pm Tue 9 Oct, 8:00pm
Thu 4 Oct, 2:00pm Thu 11 Oct, 2:00pm
Wed 10 Oct, 8:00pm
Audio Described Performance
Sat 13 Oct, 2:00pm