Love and Information is a bewildering but engaging experience

Debbie Chazen and Sule Rimi in Love and Information. Photo by The Other Richard.
Debbie Chazen and Sule Rimi in Love and Information. Photo by The Other Richard.

The regional premiere of a play by Caryl Churchill continues a long association between the celebrated playwright and Sheffield Theatres.

All her plays have an element of formal experimentation, and Love and Information is no exception.

There are seven sections, which have to be performed in the order they appear in the script, but within these sections a multitude of short scenes can be performed in any order.

There are more than a hundred characters, but none of these are named or indicated by gender. There are very few stage directions.

Each individual production will be very different from any other, but remain faithful to Churchill’s resonant and pithy dialogue.

Caroline Steinbeis, the director, leads a resourceful creative team, and a grid-like set helps to frame the succession of exchanges and encounters.

Six actors perform all the parts. Debbie Chazen, Marian McLoughlin, Mercy Ojelade, Ciaran Owens, Ian Redford and Sule Rimi have clearly had a lot of fun in rehearsal, and their enthusiasm and versatility make for an exhilarating experience.

We’re presented with a kaleidoscope of images and ideas, each one flowing into another with an almost cinematic fluidity, and returning time and again to the amount of information we’re constantly exposed to in the modern world and the way that impacts on our emotional lives.

Each scene is a compressed play in itself, with nothing ever finally resolved. The accuracy of memory is constantly being questioned. We see things through the filters of technology – but also through the distortions of our dreams. Philosophical and ethical dilemmas are brought up and left behind. The shifts in music, lighting and technical effects keep everything sharp and in the moment.

It’s bewildering but always engaging, political as well as personal, witty, funny, moving, tragic, seemingly random, reflecting in its multi-layered way our sense of what it’s like to be alive.

Love and Information is on at the Studio until Saturday 14 th July.