Love and Information is a theatrical whirlwind. Within the short hour of the play, the entire scope of human emotion and experience is laid out for the audience to see. The audience is transported into the minds of the actors, chiefly through their emotive and honest expression in the roles that they play. The play spans many different eras and lifestyles, all against the simplistic yet effective staging of a suburban home.
The backdrop for the main action of the play are a discontented couple, played by Kate Wainer – who brilliantly portrays a disaffected individual – and Em Miles, who is the perfect counterpart, with her empathetic, consoling manner. The audience are tuned in and tuned out to the happenings of their lives throughout the play, as we are to the many stories portrayed around and in front of them.
The main ensemble of four drive the play with their constant switching of personas to portray over fifty characters. Astonishingly, they are able change actions, personalities and emotions all in the flash of a lighting change, which effectively signals the coming change in story. As the actors emerge from the seating area, they impart the sense that they are part of the audience and refract certain details of our lives onto the stage. This staging is well executed by the director Bali Birch-Lee, as is the choice of clothing, the ensemble being dressed in all black, allowing them to slip in and out characters with fluidity, and providing a contrast to the colourful dress of the couple in the background.
While not all of the snapshot scenes are engaging, some are absolutely captivating, making the less interesting ones worth the watch. In particular Dolores Carbonari portrays the mind of a mentally ill woman spectacularly, and her restless energy in this role filled the relatively small corpus stage. Glen Collier interprets the role of an amnesiac husband in a heart-rending manner bringing an integrity and sincerity to the role that captures the audience and allows us to deeply empathise with his predicament. Xanthe Burdett’s range of expression is outstanding; she moves from nonchalance to seriousness in a heartbeat, a change that is echoed her tone of voice and facial expression that work to great effect in the stories. Her stand-out moment is in her recounting of a tale of a boy who felt no fear, her blasé tone and demeanour allowing the delivery of the punchline of the tale to be a comedic highpoint of the play. Hollie Witton also brings great comedic value to the play, her portrayal of a man questioning God providing light relief from the rather serious tone of the play.
My only criticism of the play is the lack of fluidity between the narrative of the couple and the narratives of the ensemble. Although they inhabit the same space within the play, there is a distinct gap between them, which is reinforced by the lack of interactions between the narratives which might have served to make the structure of the play clearer at the beginning. The end of the play ties together the two somewhat discordant entities that the play is preoccupied with: love and information, and does so with great flourish and emotion. Overall, this is a gripping play, that leaves you eager to inhabit the mental space of the characters it portrays. A must-see.