By Briana Dunn, Staff Writer
It may not be February, but love was in the air this weekend at Xavier Theatre’s season-opening production of Caryl Churchill’s Love and Information.
Let me open by saying this show did not disappoint in the slightest. A cast of 12 actors playing over 100 characters? Mind-blowing. An hour and 40-minute show with no intermission? Amazing. Even more incredible were the many unrelated storylines.
I’d estimate there were about 25 to 30 mini plays within the overall play. Although the storylines weren’t explicitly related, every mini play felt connected from afar. It was also very entertaining and intriguing to experience the play based on your own subplots.
The script provides just enough information for you to understand the setting, but leaves you with enough ambiguity to make up a story based on the two- to five-minute scenes you viewed. I would go as far to say every person in the theater experienced a different play based on their life thus far.
The set’s intimacy reminded me of last season’s Rabbit Hole. The audience was sitting on the stage, mere feet away from the production. It felt like you were a part of the show, not in the audience, especially when you could feel the wind from moving props.
The opening scene was jovial and showed the versatility of the actors cast in the show. It appeared to be improvised dancing but still choreographed, a hard feat to seamlessly pull off. Non-dancing actors brandished instruments to set the mood.
The acting across the entire production was quite emotional and fantastic. Actors would seamlessly make 180-degree mood changes in a matter of seconds to match the scene and differentiate their characters. Even when scenes weren’t gut-wrenching, the actors were on point with their expressions, mannerisms and body language.
The sound design and acoustics were phenomenal. There was one musician who sat on house-right with a variety of instruments. The actors’ lines were clear, and the volume was great, especially since none had microphones to my knowledge.
The light design was also magnificent and accurately set each scene’s mood along with the accompanying sounds.
I found there were a few areas where I was confused. First, I do not recall any of the characters being named, at least those that were presented by actors. However, I like the idea of an open-ended character because it allowed the audience to draw their own conclusions about the fates of such characters, especially if the actors reappeared in the same groups or with related concepts.
Second, the musician on stage was incorporated into the script, interacting with only one actor who was always dressed in the same clothes. This allows for inferences about their relationship, but it also appears as the only repeated relationship in the show.
Additionally, the musician had no lines, albeit some sung words at the beginning. Interpretations of his lines only resulted from his body language. However, the musician is not listed as an actor in the cast, so it was unclear if his part was explicitly in the script or if it was Xavier Theatre’s interpretation to fit the stage design.
Overall, the play depicts the qualms of life over many age groups and situations. It also got philosophical about the beauty and fragility of human existence. I cannot express how much I was almost brought to tears from understanding, relating to or seeing something minorly heart-wrenching acted out. I left the play confused but yearning for more.
Xavier Theatre, you have once again impressed me beyond belief. Now if you’ll excuse me, I may have to call my mom and cry in my room for a few hours to recover from this amazing show.