Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Love and Information

Jacob Garcia and Gail Dartez perform in “Love and Information”
running through Feb. 28 at Capital Stage. Charr Crail/Courtesy photo

Imagine dumping over a bucket of marbles.  Each marble has a theatrical scene written on it.  You pick up marbles at random and perform the scene.

That’s kind of how award-winning playwright, Caryl Churchill’s “Love and Information” seems to be.  Some 50+ scenes over 95 minutes, some as short as only two lines before blackout, strung together in what seems to be random fashion.  In fact, so random that even the playwright gives leeway for production interpretation. As long as the scenes which comprise of each of 7 sections remain within that section, it’s OK to rearrange them.  There are no character or gender names in the script, so men and women may reverse roles from how it was done in some other production.

It may seem like this would produce a big confusing mess, but in some odd way, it works.

The message is the message.

In these post-Sesame Street days, we have all grown up with short attention spans and a need for instant gratification, and Churchill’s work plays into that.  We get a glimpse, but only a glimpse of the lives of others and then we move on to the next scene.  It’s like flipping through the channels on your television set, catching brief glimpses of the program that is on before moving onto the next.

Some are funny, some are sad, some are confusing.  Some are short, a conversation of only 5 lines. Others may present a more complete scene, e.g. a scientist explaining how he gathers chickens for experiment on how their brains work. 

Some are very funny, as two teenagers with big crushes on a famous star, comparing what they know about him.

Some are more poignant, as a discussion with an Alzheimers patient, or someone being given a bad medical diagnosis.

One of our favorites was a piece called “Linguist,” which is a discussion of what the place where you put your food when you sit down to eat is called in different languages. (table, trapezi, stol, mesa, meza, tarang, tabulka).  The message of that one sneaks up on you.

There is a cast of eleven - Rob August, Eric Baldwin, Gail Dartez, Kristine Elizabeth David, Jacob Garcia, Laura Kaya, Jouni Kirjola, Tiffanie Mack, Alexander Martnez, Matt K. Miller and Emilie Talbot - and each plays a number of characters, each trying to make sense of what they know, all impeccably. 

As important as the actors is the tech staff.  Benjamin T. Ismail is the director who makes this all work.

Brian Watson is the scenic designer who has created a stage of circuitry and boxes which move in and out to suggest settings.

Steve Decker has the task of lighting and projections design/technical director.  Without his lighting and projections and the sound effects of Ed Lee, from electronic circuitry in motion to babies crying and dogs barking, this would not have been nearly as effective a production.

There is a set crew who move the set pieces around with such speed and proficiency that, despite the number of scenes to be covered, it all went very smoothly.

At the end of the show, the temptation is to say ‘what was that all about?” but as you think about it, it just somehow all makes sense.

This is a unique theatrical experience but a memorable one which should be very satisfying.

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