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TMI ;) Too Much Information? — Not at the CCM Production

As I walked into the Patricia Corbett Theatre(PCT) at CCM for preview night of Love and Information I thought I screwed up their electronics system.

There’s a reason you have to turn off your cellphone when you board an airplane.  It interferes with the communications system for the pilots to the control tower and other airplanes. It even happens sometimes when you’re at church – you’ll hear a “beep-beep-beep” or some static-like noise issuing from the speakers because of an electronic signal that’s picked up by a wireless microphone from your text message.

As I entered PCT, this exact “noise” occurred as I walked past their sound control and I was checking my Facebook. I sat down embarrassed that I may have messed up their sound system. I turned my phone off.

It wasn’t my fault. I can honestly say that!

Sound designer Edward Mineishi cleverly worked some magic into a “soundtrack” underscore for the show! This preshow “noise” caught many off guard. But we realized, once the production began, that it was a dizzying premise to get us in the mind-frame of what was to come. It was unnerving to say the least and I thought to myself midway through the show, “I’m so sick of the noise of technology.”

That’s it for spoilers. Because too much information is what is wrong with society right now. And, director Brant Russell has made this production a perfect statement for TMI.

Love and Information is a collection of 57 short, episodic vignettes in which playwright Caryl Churchill uses a series of interaction between mostly unnamed characters to explore knowledge, meaning and how we make sense of information in our lives. While this there isn’t one specific story it’s telling, the script does have several narratives that add up to something larger that reveals how we live and what it means to be human in our society right now.

Most of these scenes are dialogues between two characters, with the exception of a series of one-line scenes titled “Depression,” characters are not repeated from one scene to the next, meaning that the 28 actors are responsible for playing multiple roles.

And, that is the fun!

The presentation of fifty-seven episodes, some very funny and some very poignant, played out through 28 actors and many, many costume, hair and wig changes, is the most fascinating aspect of this production. I can’t begin to imagine what was going through director Brant Russel’s head as he was trying to make sense of all of this. And it does make sense, trust me! Once I got comfortable with the fact that there was no linear storyline, I settled in for a rollicking evening of watching some very, very talented actors and craftspeople at work. As a reviewer you try not to have “favorites.” But there are some of these students that I’ve watched grow through the years (senior Rupert Spraul, fresh off the boards from an amazing performance as Hamlet) and they and their performances in this production showcases their rich gallery of talent.  Each actor made each character come alive in unison to tell a story of the people and events on stage. (Remember they changed 57 scenes!) You’ll see the familiar CCM faces in tour-de-force performances that make you appreciate and love them even more.

And let’s NOT forget the behind-the-scenes folks.  I marveled at the mustaches, beards, necklaces, and wigs, wigs, wigs.  As we’re pulled from one set of lives to another, in mere minutes, it’s amazing to witness the swift and nimble changes that create new characters.  It’s like flipping TV channels and seeing new characters on new shows within minutes. Astonishing work!

The set design, by student Matthew D. Hammel, seems ripped straight from an Apple commercial with a little bit of George Lucas’s THX-1138 thrown in for good measure. It syncs perfectly with the soundtrack.

While it’s a 90-minute run time, there is a bit of a slowdown midway. It’s a chance to catch your breath and get comfortable in your seat again, before you’re whisked away to another moment.  It’s about moments. It’s about love. It’s about information and how much we rely on that information and in some cases it affects how we love, who love, and love ourselves.

For more information (no pun intended) visit the CCM Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/UCCollegeConservatoryofMusic/) or the box office website at http://CCM.uc.edu/boxoffice/mainstage/love-and-information.html, or call 513-556-4183 or online through the CCM e-Box Office at http://purchase.tickets.com/buy/TicketPurchase?orgid=47789&schedule=list.

You’ll love it!