Love and Information
Stooged Theatre; Catapult Dance Studios, Newcastle West
Ends August 6
CARYL Churchill’s play makes interesting use of scenes ranging in length from just a few seconds to around five minutes to explore interwoven themes of love, deception, technology, loneliness, and the nature of information. She gets onlookers asking themselves how do we handle memories and what are our best methods of communication. Staging companies are asked to stage a minimum of 50 scenes, but Churchill wrote 76 and companies can choose to use more.
The Stooged production has nine actors - Daniel Cottier, Emily Daly, Jan Hunt, Dez Robertson, Christopher Saunders, Claire Thomas, Nicholas Thoroughgood, Aretha Williams, and Emily Williams – in 56 scenes, and playing more than 100 characters in a tight 90 minutes, with audience members sitting on either side of the performance space as characters make appearances and then vanish. There are mainly two people in each scene. One has a pair throwing a ball to each other while discussing relationships; another has a sister delivering a startling revelation to her young brother while he’s trying to use his mobile phone; and there’s an amusing sequence with an annoyed person confronting a former employer and telling him that people shouldn’t be fired via email.
Productions of Love and Information often have the actors putting on colourful garments when they change characters, and set the scenes against bright backgrounds, often projected. But director Chloe Perrott and the cast and crew make effective use of everyday wear, with music and sound occasionally used to influence changing emotions. One actor, for example, is seen bare-chested and in shorts in one scene and has a business-style coat in another, but he’s generally in very casual garb. And there is evocative background sound in a moving moment where a woman asks a doctor how long she has to live. Sequences such as one in which two people throw a ball to each other while discussing relationships put broad smiles on watchers’ faces, showing that the words and actions bring back memories for them.
A word of advice if you’re going to see this production. Take a soft cushion. The chairs the audience members sit in are hard, and become increasingly more uncomfortable in the unbroken running time. That aside, the show certainly offers a lot of engaging love and information.
PLAY IN A DAY
AUDIENCE members will see an engaging collection of short plays, put together in just 24 hours, at Newcastle Theatre Company’s 8th annual Play in a Day performance at its Lambton venue on Saturday, at 8pm.