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Bursts of Narrative: A Review of CCM Acting’s “Love and Information”

Review by Alan Jozwiak of Love and Information: CCM Acting

Channel surf your way through your cable options and you will hear bursts of narrative, chunks of stories that sometimes reach a conclusion, but most likely end up:

interrupted

disjointed

or

incomplete.

CCM Acting’s latest main stage production, Love and Information, by Caryl Churchill, takes these bursts of narrative and turns it into a fascinating caravan of theatrical wonder.

Divided into seven sections containing up to ten plays a piece, Churchill’s scope ranges widely:

We get to see teenage girls arguing over who knows more about their teen heartthrob,

time-traveling jazzercisers,

a man who ponders over the reality of irrational numbers,

a woman who uses her dream of blackberries, butterflies, and ballet to justify having an affair with her coworker,

. . .and so much more.

Director Brant Russell curates these plays through careful pacing.

He wisely provides time in between each play for the audience to absorb and comprehend what has happened in one play before going onto the next one.

He also has the names of each play in surtitles, as well as the section number as the piece progresses from one section to another.

This pacing allows the audience to digest and see patterns amongst the plays.

The seven set of plays called “Depression” would have been hard to see as one unit if it was not for the fact that they are labeled as such as they appear within each section.

Russell also provides strong direction to his actors, a cast which numbers twenty-eight, meaning that all the actors get to shine as they present a multifaceted view of the world.

I had seen this show done with a much smaller cast and the larger cast helps flesh out the scope of the world.

Also helpful is the set.

Scenic Designer Matthew D. Hamel created an antiseptic, but powerful set which is divided into four boxes separated by neon lighting that flashes on and off between sections.

Added to this playing area are three areas in front of these sections for a more intimate experience.

Actors come on and off during the blackouts between plays as minimal set pieces are added or taken off stage.

Perhaps my only quibble with the production came with the excessive use of wigs and facial hair.

In order to create the illusion the audience was seeing literally dozens of actors, Hair and Makeup Designer Rin Schwob created different looks for each actor in each play.

I felt a bit distracted by this move, since part of me started playing the guessing game as to which actor was under what wig and/or beard.

Since the actors were not listed in the individual pieces, here is a list of some of the outstanding pieces within the show, in order of appearance.

Secret

Depression

Fan

Irrational

Schizophrenic

Dream

Wedding Video

Dance

Table

Tables

Semaphore

Rash

Birdsong

Sign Language

Chinese Poetry

Manic

Facts

Kudos to all the actors who appeared in these pieces.

This play is not for everyone.  The audience needs stamina because the play runs one hour and 40 minutes without an intermission, which can be overwhelming.

I began feeling narrative fatigue after an hour of continuous narrative.

My brain can handle just so much dramatic channel surfing without wanting to tuning out.

But for the adventurous theatre goer braced with this knowledge, this play is one that will delight, wonder, and amaze.

Love and Information runs February 7-11, 2018 in the Patricia Corbett Theatre.

For more information concerning CCM Acting, visit their website: http://CCM.uc.edu/theatre/drama/productions/current.html