Love and Information : an excellent young director extracts order from Churchill’s contemporary chaos

Love and Information : an excellent young director extracts order from Churchill’s contemporary chaos


Love and Information by Caryl  Churchill.   A production of the MFA directing programme in the The theate  Department at  the U of Ottawa

A talented young director brings order to Caryl Churchill’s purposely chaotic  vision of the nature of contemporary communication in this world of digital reality. Vivi  SØrensen whose work  we have already seen in the new Lab O at the Ottawa Art Galery,  (  has created an ethereal setting with nine actors, constantly rearranging themselves over rounded forms that take the shape of seats and sofas and places to spread out as the individuals listen to their cell phones, or watch wrinkled and twisted images from tablets and other I- pads or technological means of communication that are projected on floating surfaces that appear to be violet, or red, or green or whatever emotional lighting sources appear in front of them. 

None of this has any serious material substance. (the set by Paul Aucler and Margaret Coderre-William’s lighting design bring an enormous emotional atmosphere to this world that plunges us into a constant whirlpool of instablilty).

What happens is rather simple. The young people reconverge in groups of 2 or 3 , talk to each other,listen or just watchand are constantly walking about.   They ask about each other, they mention events they have seen, they discuss ideas they have heard, they throw in serious scientific of political notions that one might hear from   time to time on the news and there are ‘discussions” that follow but we quickly are aware of the fact that all this ‘information’  is treated as trivia…nothing produces any substance, nothing is understood, the voices do not exchange information, they use words and then pass on to something else that is  totally unrelated. Logical connections are constantly broken..almost like a surrealist poem based on the principle of the ‘cadavre  exquis!’

And in all this talk..which leads no where, there is a total disconnect of any emotional feeling, of any concern, of any empathy,  We hear nothing but words and vocal tones.

At one point in the performance we have the impression that some of the speaking voices are losing their minds and are actually very troubled individuals because they are clearly confused but those changes are rapidly passed over as so much pathological slippage that  is quickly absorbed into the general banter that gobbles everything up in its black whole of nothingness. The staging might have made a bit more of that developing tendency but the director chose not to.

Churchill has captured the way current instruments of communication are slowly producing generations of heads that do not hear what is being said.  Empty heads. Nothing has any consequences, no ideas are shared, nothing is developed, there is no understanding of anything . and a total  lack of human empathy has invaded our interrelationships.

The performance continues, the discussions continue..there is no beginning, no end just a continuum  that goes nowhere in particular, a hyper reality that  has created its own new  reality…going where?  ……

There it is..  Yet Mme SØrensen  has kept the whole performance moving at a good pace so we barely have a chance to dissect it all but we are carried away by the rhythmic energy of those chattering bodies  that hold our attention, even eliciting the odd giggle from time to time. The Team has understood what the playwright is trying to say. They caught this world that goes nowhere and for someone of my own generation it leaves us with a terrible sense of meaninglessness and loss.  For a much younger person I am convinced the reaction would be quite different.

Go see this show.   Love and Information  continues at the Academic Hall of the U of Ottawa from March  26 to March 30  at 8 pm.

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