Theater: ‘Love and Information’ is too ambitious

Love and Information
Here’s one of the 50 brief scenes that make up “Love and Information.”
Credit: Joan Marcus

To quote architect Mies van der Rohe: “Less is more.” Too bad Caryl Churchill, author of “Love and Information” at the Minetta Lane Theatre, didn’t heed his counsel. Effortlessly intelligent and often delightful, her play is ultimately an information overload.

An agglomeration of 50-odd vignettes, at first “Love” has you waiting for it to settle on a single storyline. Once you realize that’s not going to happen, you search in vain for the unifying thread binding its disparate components together. Good luck.

The pieces in “Love” range in length from several minutes to several seconds. They all relate to information — what verbal expression doesn’t? — and, to a lesser extent, love. But these themes are far too broad to sink your teeth into. Churchill’s writing is crisp and funny; her subjects are wide-ranging and unique. Topics include sharing secrets, revealing secrets, irrational numbers, witness protection, insomnia and hearing the voice of God (while not taking your medication because it interferes with the reception). Then there’s the young woman sweetly telling her date about her grisly occupation cutting the heads off fluffy yellow chicks in the name of science, an especially effective juxtaposition of innocence and the grotesque. Bur what does it all add up to?

The ensemble of “Love and Information” encompasses various ages, sexes (well, two) and races. They’re fantastic. Miriam Buether’s set, reminiscent of three-dimensional graph paper, is perfect for the omnibus goings-on. And the blackouts between scenes, creating the illusion of an immaterial curtain of darkness, are flawless.

“Love and Information” has much to recommend it. And if the author were a little less ambitious (if she had trimmed its pieces to a more workable number), its lack of cohesion might be less troubling. But as it is, the whole is less than the sum of its parts.

 

‘Love and Information’
Through March 23
New York Theatre Workshop, Minetta Lane Theatre
18 Minetta Lane
$65-$85, 212-279-4200
www.nytw.org/loveandinformation


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