Stage review: Love And Information, Royal Court

By Giles Broadbent on September 17, 2012 11:12 AM |

Love_information.jpg

STAGE
Love And Information
Royal Court
★★★★✩

IN A NUTSHELL
Caryl Churchill's kaleidoscope exploration of the whip-crack of modern life is exhilarating, breathless and rich.

REVIEW
Too much information, man. It's become a punchline rather than a protest. In Caryl Churchill's torrent of breathless vignettes, she explores both outcomes.

Form and function coalesce with rapid fire scenes taking to a holodeck stage; tiny, perfectly executed fragments, here and gone, light then black, leaving just on a flare trace on the senses.

So we have lovers sharing a terrible secret, a man grassing on his mate, a doctor breaking bad news, sweaty flashbacks, science lessons, a night club shout-a-thon, the mismatch of a half-remembered affair.

Some pitch straight for the laughs - like the mascara-smeared party girl in a bunny costume glugging vino - while others possess a haunting back story merely suggested in their 30 second span.

Churchill's theme is how we perceive, receive, process and store information - physiologically and emotionally - and what happens when those systems collapse, when memory goes blank or present concerns reconfigure the past.

This is a mouse click graze of snippety kicks and giggles. VousTube, the polite form of YouTube. Some 16 actors - no weak links, some blissfully superb - play 100 characters in 57 varieties of the theme in 110 minutes.

No-one ever returns. No story is completed. Speed is the essence and the message. It's all very Facebook and we're the Friends full of sincere insincerity and ephemeral fascination.

The audience near me Liked and Unliked, pitching one sketch against the next because life at this speed can only be lists and judgments, devoid of the meaningful human connections that Churchill clearly mourns.

The rhythm is distinctly untheatre-like - no discourse, just distilled moments of truth - and sheer onslaught, without interval, is disconcerting, fidgety, anxious but attuned to the pace of modern life where what's next is more important than what's now.

This is a dashing and rich exploration by Churchill as wildly entertaining, overwhelming and purposefully unsatisfying as a Las Vegas buffet bar.

- Until October 13. Go to royalcourttheatre.com/

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