Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe
Love and Information
Sounds dreadful. But it works great. In the West End production, there are eight actors who move through the vignettes: Fawn Hanson, Aodan Luthazar, Colleen Neary McClure, Margie Maes, Yannig Morin, Parker Owen, Dan Ware, and Patricia Thompson. They work well as an ensemble and individually–strong, confident, and tender acting.
British playwright Caryl Churchill is 85 and still going strong. She had one new play produced in 2021 and several in 2019. Love and Information was first produced when she was merely in her mid-70s. She is considered one of Britain's greatest playwrights. Her plays tend to be tough-minded, poetic, and experimental.
Sounds like a perfect setup for a demanding play. Yet, Love and Information is engaging, even light. The absence of narrative is usually an iffy proposition in drama. Yet the lack of narrative pull works exceptionally well here. The vignettes center on love and information. In each scene, we get two or three actors under an individual spotlight. The actors show up in different pairings.
The characters relate information, and sometimes that means revealing secrets. In one of the early vignettes, a sister explains to her brother that she is actually his mother. He's alarmed by the thought that he has now lost both a sister and a mother. In another scene, a man explains to a woman the names for "table" in many different languages. At one point, the actors line up and face the audience, taking turns spouting different pieces of information. Again, on paper, that doesn't sound wonderful, but it truly is.
Part of the reason this works so well is the combination of tight directing by Joe Feldman and terrific acting by the entire cast. The production crew includes stage manager Tami Martinson, set designer Mattie Roos, and lighting designer Riley Lewis, among others. The action on stage is supported by clever snatches of video by Tim Nenninger. All terrific.
Ultimately, the overall reason this works is due to the exquisite writing by Churchill. Here's a play that unfolds in fragments yet it isn't fragmented in the least. While different chunks of "information" get delivered, it's the love that shines through. So odd. So unexpected. So lovely.
Love and Information, a presentation of West End Productions, runs through November 19, 2023, at the VSA North Fourth Art Center, 4904 4th St. NW, Albuquerque NM. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday and Sunday. General admission is $25 ($23 online). Discounted admission is $24 ($22 online) for ATG members, military, students, and seniors (62+). Tickets at the door are an additional $2. For tickets and information, please visit westendproductions.org or call 855-937-8505.