A GUILTY PLEASURE of mine after a long day is to flip through television programs while browsing something like Facebook or Instagram, limited only by the number of screens I can assemble. Theatre Vertigo's latest production, Caryl Churchill's Love and Information, is a little like this: awash with windows into a variety of daily human dramas.
Cleverly staged in a minimalist theater-in-the-round style, it's a fast-paced collection of dozens of short scenes—some lasting mere seconds—and a panoply of nameless characters, played by a cast of 12. Each scene offers entirely new context and characters. Two girls, in love with someone, sneak into his room. A man tells his dinner date in graphic detail about his work slicing up the brains of baby chicks to decipher their memories, oblivious to his companion's discomfort. A sister reveals to her brother that she is in fact his mother. A man has taken the train to Coney Island to inform on an acquaintance.
While engaging and often exciting, it's hard to know at first what it's all getting at. We get a lot of critical information, but to what end? Finally, a scene contains a signpost in the form of the title line: a couple, in bed, talk about evolutionary imperatives—sex, essentially, is information exchange, one of them says. Otherwise, we'd be like starfish, endlessly reproducing copies of ourselves. We're exchanging "love and information," he says.
From this assertion the play riffs on, and while the scope is vast, it feels compact and controlled. And, like I hope to be after an evening of internet bingeing, it feels dialed into the current social, political, and emotional landscape. This is by design. Churchill's script is scant on information—context and characters are left radically open to interpretation, and scenes can be moved around, even added in at the director's discretion. In other words, the script itself is open to information exchange, and there is much for the producing company to contribute. Under the direction of Michelle Seaton, Theatre Vertigo delivers. This is a remarkable, exciting performance—one that is surely no starfish reproduction of previous iterations.
Love and Information
Theatre Vertigo at Shoe Box Theatre, 2110 SE 10th, Thurs-Sat 7:30 pm, Sun 2 pm, through May 7, $10-20 (pay-what-you-will Thurs), theatrevertigo.org