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A CurtainUp Review
Love and Information

"You shouldn't fire people by email. You cant come bursting in here and shouting.".—a middle aged victim of downsizing who seems more upset by the impersonal way it's been done than the firing per se.

"I dont care what you say. . .she's beautiful she's intelligent she understands me." — A man defending his passion to a friend who's skeptical because the object of his passion is a computer.

Love and Information logo
Ernö Rubik's famous puzzle game is certainly an apt logo for Caryl Churchill's Love and Information. The Hungarian sculpture artist and professor of architecture's 3-dimensional puzzle has kept kids and grownups arranging and re-arranging all the little cubes until they get a unified image. And the ever-inventive Ms. Churchill has created her own version of that puzzle cube.

Churchill has upped the cube's fifty-four moveable blocks to some sixty scenes organized into seven parts. For all their surface differences, these play nuggets add up to a single though fragmented picture of some one hundred people. What unifies this kaleidoscopic sum of many parts is that each scene shows the effect of an information swamped society on the human condition.

Many of the dramatized equivalents of tweets that drive this plotless endeavor are quite funny, but more than a few are confusing and unsatisfactorily fragmented. But if you hang in there you'll see each segment as part of the exploration of information's effect on how we live and love: How it's revealed or not revealed; received, used or misused; how it delights or depresses, clarifies or befuddles.

The information theme that propels us from scene to scene begins with two lovers dealing with secret information the old-fashioned way. She coaxes him to whisper the secret she feels stands between them in her ear. Another character in love is defending the object of his passion to a friend who can't see a computer as a substitute for a flesh and blood woman. ("I don't care what you say. . .she's beautiful she's intelligent she understands me."). Other snippets are more downbeat. Case in point: A middle-aged man hides his grief at losing his job by ranting about being told he was fired via e-mail rather than face-to-face; a woman with a terminal illness asks the doctor how much time she has. Characters delighted with the ever increasing access to information are counter balanced throughout by those unable to cope.

While the scenes sometimes last less than a minute and never much more, the sum total comes to an hour and 45 minutes, longer than Churchill's previous plays produced at New York Theatre Workshop: Far Away-55 minutes and A Number-65 minutes .

Both Far Away and A Number came with the buzz of its star-powered casting, with Frances McDormand in the former and Sam Shepard and Dallas Roberts in the latter. While Love and Information can't boast that sort of star power, it has a big cast of fifteen to take on the multitude of characters. All, like the actors in the London production, prove to be more than up to the daunting shifts from character to character, complete with costume changes. Karen Kandel, Maria Tucci, Kellie Overbey John Procaccino and James Waterston are just some who have standout moments.

It's the New York company's great good fortune that James Macdonald and his superb crafts team are aboard to once again give a vivid stage life to the minimalist script that has no stage directions or specifics about the speakers' ages or sex. MacDonald's savvy decisions about who will be in each snippet, with what props and in what costumes is what makes Love and Information fun to watch. The only decision I would question is why he projects the number at the beginning of each new part, but ignore the scene titles included in the script. Granted, there are so many that projecting them might clutter things up but I think theater goers would appreciate having them listed in the program after the cast list.

Love and Information
Maria Tucci and John Procaccino (Photo: Joan Marcus)
Miriam Beuther's grid design, brightly lit by Peter Mumford, cleverly echoes the Rubik Cube template of tiny slices of life to be pieced together into a group portrait. Each scene has its own props. Nothing fancy, but just enough to set the scene. A particularly amusing prop is an upright bed in which a couple is tucked in for the night, except that the wife has trouble going to sleep. She finally opts for technology's own sleeping pill, by getting out of bed and heading for a Facebook session.

Gabriel Berry and Andrea Hood's character and situation defining costumes further fill in details omitted from the fragmentary dialogue. Christopher Shutt's punchy sound design, does double duty to set the mood for the next scene and also cover up the movement of props in and out of the doors built into the upstage section of the set. Stage Manager Christine Catti and her backstage helpers should be called out at the end of each performance for a special round of applause.

Ultimately there's a lot of information being processed here. Given that not every piece of this theatrical puzzle is as potent as it wants to be, one can't help wishing that Miss Churchill had trimmed enough of the less effective scenes to match rather than exceed the number of pieces in Rubik's Cube. Without its own information overload, her play would be easier to love without reservation.
Love and Information by Caryl Churchill
Directed by James Macdonald Cast: Phillip James Brannon, Randy Danson, Susannah Flood, Noah Galvin, Jennifer Ikeda, Karen Kandel, Irene Sofia Lucio, Nate Miller, Kellie Overbey, Adante Power, John Procaccino, Lucas Caleb Rooney, Maria Tucci, James Waterston and Zoë Winters.
Scenic by Miriam Buether
Costume design by Gabriel Berry and Andrea Hood
Lighting design: Peter Mumford
Sound design: Christopher Shutt
Music Director: David Dabbon
Dialect Coach: Kate Wilson
Stage Manager: Christine Catti
Assistant Stage Manager: Alison DeSantis
Running Time: Approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes without an intermission
New York Theatre Workshop at Minetta Lane Theatre 18 Minetta Lane
From 2/04/14; opening 2/19/14; closing 3/23/14
Tuesday and Wednesday at 7pm; Thursday and Friday at 8pm; Saturday at 3pm and 8pm; Sunday at 2pm and 7pm. Special student matinee on March 19, 2014.
Orchestra tickets are $85 and mezzanine tickets $30 for performances February 4-19 and $65 after. For exact dates and times of performances, visit
Reviewed by Elyse Sommer at 2/17 press preview
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