‘Love and Information’ was written in 2012 by the British postmodernist playwright, Caryl Churchill who wrote short radio dramas for the BBC. Even though she is now 80 yrs. old, Caryl is still very interested in the abuse of power by people like Harvey Weinstein, along with sexual politics and feminist themes. Although Churchill was brought up in Montréal and then attended Oxford University, where she wrote her first four plays for the student theatre ensemble. Despite her surname, Churchill has always been a strong socialist. In 1987 as an act of defiance against Maggie Thatcher, Churchill wrote her play about financiers, ‘Serious Money’ in rhyming couplets.
Churchill is a patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
‘Love and Information’ is thought to be Churchill’s most skilfully and intelligently written play. With over a hundred very different characters, there are fifty vignettes and private glimpses at their secret lives and their difficulties in communicating. In the eight sections of the play, the director is given a great deal of freedom in the adaptation and interpretation. Hand in Hand Theatre, who are mainly ex-Murdoch Theatre and English students have leapt at this massive challenge. Although they only have a handful of plays under their belt, the ‘Hand in Hand Theatre Company’ are already highly respected and were nominated for a Perth Fringe Award.
With several foreign accents, intense love, flirting, heartbreak, supposed fidelity, coupled with numerous styles of communication from texting, semaphore to introversion and an inability to communicate; as the producers say, ‘there is truly a kaleidoscope of entertainment’.
The shows are nightly until Saturday 27th July. The curtain goes up on this 100-minute show at 7.30 in the Subiaco Arts Centre Studio, 180 Hamersley Road, in Subiaco.
The scene: is today, but the cameos could be relevant in any era.
The set: eight 60 cms white cubes on castors. There is a large screen on the rear wall which showed computer and ‘phone massaging. (good graphics from designer Tiffany Banner and videographer David Cox).
The cast did all the scene changes averaging only two seconds, but with forty changes they had to be fast, accurate and non-invasive. The lights would change colour, the actors moved in, with a couple of bars of musical crescendo filling the air the next vignette would begin.
Kristie Smith’s lighting design was bright, colourful (from oranges to lime green) and worked well with Aiden Willoughby’s lively composition.
Show’s website and promotion were by Bobby Cooper and Dana Nguyen.
The show was produced by Justin Mosel-Crossley, then stage managed, and tech operated by Thomas Wendt.
The lights dim. The cast are seen seated in the dark on wooden cubes, in lines of four at each side of the stage. They are lit by the small screens as they study their mobile phones.
A young girl (Nashy MZ) demonstrates a few methods of communication. As she dances a blend of ballet and contemporary dance – and dance is one of the best ways to express emotion – she is also wearing a scarf, this further communicates her love of her religion. Two or three good routines, well done. Nearby two girls are chatting when one (Tijana Simich) confides to her friend that she has carried a big secret for years. Naturally, her friend (Beth Williams) is desperate to know what the secret is. The communication skills between the two girls reach a new level as one tries to drag out the secret.
A scientist (Carlos Sivalingam) is getting enthusiastic as he describes his latest horrendous experiments to a newspaper reporter (Domenic Scriva) who is desperate to tell his readers. A young man (Philip Hutton) sits expressionless and without any communication possible; his distraught mother (Caroline McDonnell) must suffer alone. An older chap (Dr Andrew Kocsis) seems to be in overall control of the communications, which he controls with a mere snap of the fingers.
In this play, Churchill has provided the director, Claire Mosel-Crossley, with forty solid situations and a Lego kit to build with. Claire has the brains and skill to take this play – that may look simple or even trite but is not – and has created a smorgasbord of great depth, with plenty of clues for the audience to interpret further should they require. Claire and this very talented troupe have produced a thought-provoking, multi-layered work.
Each actor has around ten characters to play; each being very different in age, voice, mannerisms and humour. With each slot being only two and a half minutes, there had to be instant chemistry between the actors. For example, Carlos was wonderful as a German scientist rattling off scientific facts, then only minutes later he was a dementia sufferer struggling with a walking stick and abusing his heartbroken wife (Caroline) whom he did not recognise. All eight of the cast were amazing in this very difficult to stage play.
Some audiences prefer a simple two-hour story, well sorry but this is not for you. If you enjoy quality and multifaceted performances, then this is first rate.