“Love and Information” is the theatergoer’s equivalent of speed-dating — except that you’re more likely to be glad you showed up.
An ensemble cast of 14 leaps its way through a play consisting of 57 — yes, 57 — micro-scenes, some less than 30 seconds long. By turns funny, sage and touching, Caryl Churchill’s sound-bite exploration of the modern state of human connections and the ever-increasing onslaught of knowledge both useless and profound has something for everyone, especially those with short attention spans.
“No one knows everything about someone,” a circumspect hairdresser tells his client early on. And we should want to at our own peril, it becomes increasingly clear, as characters changing identities with each scene alight on topics ranging from depression or Alzheimer’s to insomnia or an affair.
The engaging cast includes frequent Frank fliers Patrick Bailey, Tessa Flynn and Virginia Burke. Playwright Churchill, whose previous works produced at Frank have included “Vinegar Tom” and “Top Girls,” is a voice quite simpatico with director Wendy Knox’s sensibilities, and it shows.
Churchill’s brilliant ear for dialogue, Knox’s tight direction and Erica Zaffarano’s spare set keep the instant-message merry-go-round spinning from each scene to the next, often before you’ve absorbed the last one. In other words, a mirror image of constantly fragmented thoughts in the age of texting, streaming, Instagram and Twitter.
The title comes from one of the shortest sketches, on sex. One partner posits that sex is essentially information, two sets of genes talking to each other to ensure the creation of unique offspring. “You don’t think that while we’re doing it, do you?” asks the other partner. “It doesn’t hurt to know it,” says the first one. “Information and also love.”
From Kenny G and One Direction to Brian Eno and Laurie Anderson, sound designer Dan Dukich’s deft musical choices instantly shift the mood. Selections by Moondog, the experimental New York street musician of the mid-20th century who made his own instruments out of found objects, are particularly apt.
For a play that repeatedly lampoons the concept of TMI, “Love and Information” slyly leaves us wanting more — and reminds us that no matter how many sophisticated modes of communicating with other flawed humans that we can access, we’ll still manage to misconstrue, misconvey, then kiss and make up, just like always.