Love and Information

Love and Information
By Caryl Churchill. Metro Arts Theatre, Brisbane. 31 July to 10 August, 2019

Love and Information is a miscellany of short scenes – some micro – in seven mini acts. The scenarios place hundreds of characters in a mix of bland, random and extraordinary situations. Some of the scenes play as overheard conversations or real events reinterpreted. Some are Soap-ish; some are surreal. It feels pixelated, and technology features in many scenes (the classic: the couple at a restaurant scrolling through their social media feed) so there’s much for audiences to relate to in the grabs and glimpses of modern life. The scenes don’t connect, other than to the themes of the title. This is a series of sketches, with minimal emotional investment. But, the interesting thing for the directors and ensemble is that there is no heavy stage direction, and some of the scenes are written to be randomly played in any of the seven acts. The team has carte blanche with casting and setting – and this must be the key creative allure. But the workshops have to make this more about real people than a mere technical workout. And so we see some refreshing scenes of same-sex romance and non-gender-specific scenes that are touching and funny. A wider ethnic mix would have been interesting too. And, as separate pieces as well as a whole, Love and Information is very entertaining.

The throng of characters are portrayed by a group of 10 actors – many are Acting and Performance graduates from TAFE Queensland with vast experience in works ranging from gaming and animation voices and self-devised solo projects to international festivals and films. Directors Lisa O’Neill and Anatoly Frusin – both experienced directors and trainers with TAFE Queensland – show their skill at drawing confident performances from the ensemble cast, and balancing out the possibility of any upstaging. Their production group – Robert the Cat – is another Brisbane-based collective. Their focus is on providing theatre graduates with a showcase for their work. It is the perfect project team for a Caryl Churchill play because her work comes from a collaborative place where improvisation is encouraged.

As well as a technical show of prowess, Love and Information is a calling card for the entire production team, with some excellent performances, engaging lighting and staging. Rightly so for an ensemble piece, no one stands out any more than any other – it is a great display piece for highlighting the many skills of a very talented creative collective.

Beth Keehn

Photographer: Warrick Fraser

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