LOVE AND INFORMATION inaugurates A.C.T.’s Strand Theater with a winner.

Ensemble of Love and Information at A.C.T. Strand Theatre

LOVE AND INFORMATION: A Theatrical Event by Caryl Churchill. Directed by Casey Stang. A.C.T.’s  Strand Theater, 1127 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94103. 415-749-2228 or www.actasf.org.

June13–August 9, 2015

LOVE AND INFORMATION inaugurates A.C.T.’s  Strand Theater with a winner. Rating: ★★★★★

It is befitting that the initial production to grace the stage of A.C.T.’s  Strand Theater is a truly a new form of theatrical writing. The ‘play’ is Caryl Churchill’s latest opus Love and Information that has, of course, a beginning and an end but does not follow any of the Aristotelian or modern guidelines of playwriting. There are the 47 scenes unrelated to one and other with an occasional unidentified character silently walking in and out of a scene(s). Nor is a single character identified. 

In fact the PR material states that each scene has a title but does not necessarily describe the content. Churchill allows the director to stage each scene in any order desired and with the freedom to remove a scene.  How then should a theater critic review the “play?”   In the words of my editor, “Be a reviewer and not a critic.”

 Director Casey Stang who has impressive curriculum vitae is an admirer of Churchill’s work having directed Cloud Nine at the Guthrie Theatre and other venues. Stang has elected to engage 12 actors of various ethnic backgrounds to play all 100 plus roles using projections on the huge screen dominating rear stage. The number of each scene is flashed on that screen and sparse furniture is deftly moved on and off stage as necessary without interrupting the flow of the action. There is also a myriad of slick costume changes.

Churchill explores love in many manifestations from the young to the old with forays into male/female homosexual as well as heterosexual relationships. There are no judgmental implications in matters of love or information. Churchill’s writing just succinctly chronicles the events.

Information takes the forefront in the opening scene where two women are having a conversation with one having a secret that she does not wish to share. From this simple interpersonal sharing of information there are forays in television, cell phones, Facebook and Twitter and the loss of privacy with modern technology. A devastating scene is a brief interchange between two detectives, one white, one black who are interrogating a prisoner.

After seeing this theatrical event you are forced to make your own decisions of what is right and what is wrong. Churchill does not tip her hand and expertly demonstrates “this is how it is.”  Selecting individual scenes for discussion becomes a very personal choice. A brief request by one actor to another, “Look at me!” conveys more information than reams of dialog.

There is a great deal of humor, both satirical and unexpected, allowing the evening to be well balanced. When one actor insists he has had a conversation with God he receives a question, “Does he have a regional accent?” The seriousness of having pain is defused with an analysis of the word meaning: “If pain has meaning what is the meaning of meaning?”

Virtual reality, classified information, climate change, the significance of a red rose, control over the TV remote, the lack of ability to say “I’m sorry” and the loss of social intercourse can be found. All are there but be assured there is much, much more. It all ends with a ‘selfie’ of the cast making the performance a not to be missed evening.

CAST: Joel Bernard, Anthony Fusco, Cindy Goldfield, Dan Hiatt, Joe Holt, Rafael Jordan, Sharon Lockwood, Leo Marks, Stefanée Martin, Dominique Salerno, Mia Tagano and Shona Tucker.

CREATIVE TEAM: Robert Brill (set design); Lap Chi Chu (lighting design);Jessie Amoroso (costume design); Andrew Mayer (sound design); Micah J. Stieglitz (projection designer).

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of www.theatreworldinternetmagazine.com.