Love and Information Review

December 12, 2021 | By Julia Yohe

Love and Information’s title is a cruel trick on the audience. The misnomer leads the audience to believe there will be some information present in the scenes, but that is not the case. The play is a series of puzzling, juxtaposed tableaus that begin in medias res, offering no contextual information to help the audience catch up when they are suddenly lifted from a scene about talking to God and dropped into a demonstration of the actors’ bird squawking skills. The actors affectionately nicknamed the show, “British and Confusing”. Despite their criticisms, the actors performed a confusing script well, emotionally portraying characters dealing with difficult topics like shameful secrets, hidden parents, and global climate catastrophes.

Photo by Lauren Scornavacca

The play demands directorial creativity, as the playwright, Caryl Churchill, provides the director with the opportunity to rearrange the vignettes as they see fit. There is also an additional set of scenes that can be added into the play should the director feel the need to further confuse their audience. The nature of the play also allows for spacing the actors apart, a necessary factor in the world of COVID-19. Director Bridget Kathleen O’Leary, a Guest Artist at Northeastern and freelance director throughout Boston, handled the complex script with ease, creating a visually compelling performance that drew the audience’s attention all over the large space. 

The most interesting part of the show was the set; everything about it was engaging. To start, it was performed in the Studio Theatre, a black box theatre in Curry Student Center. Rather than being up on a stage, the actors are on the same floor as some of the audience seats (unless the actors are on an elevated piece of the set or an audience member chooses to sit on one of the risers in the theatre), and the thrust stage is surrounded by chairs for the audience. This provides an immersive experience for the audience, as they sit on almost all sides of the set, forcing the actors to become intimate with their audience.

The set consisted of a series of colorful platforms, painted bright shades of the three primary colors, as well as two scaffolding ladders and a loft. The actors became part of the set, too, often using their phones as spotlights, making noises to add to the scene, and remaining onstage whether or not they were actually in the scenes. Their costumes, contrasting the flashy platforms, were exclusively black and white. The music was eerie, putting the audience on edge. The sudden, dramatic lighting changes signaled the end of each scene. Each part of the scenery and setting sparked curiosity in the audience.

Photos by Lauren Scornavacca

Although the content of the play was, at times, difficult to follow, Love and Information highlighted and judged the fast-paced nature of the world we live in today, in which we are bombarded by random, often disturbing bits of information everywhere we go — a valid critique. Its awkwardness provided hilarity, and its confusing nature forced the audience to think and try to make sense of each scene. Being jolted from scene to scene just as you started to figure out what was going on was both a captivating and frustrating phenomenon, but it kept the audience on their toes. A maddening experience at times, watching the Northeastern theatre department’s production of Love and Information was, overall, an enjoyable one.