Today, like everyday, was made up of moments. Will they add up to anything? You tell me.
The Met Museum has opened its season of new shows, and I think I hit them all. Just for moment. No reading the text, no lingering, because nothing really sang to me. And that’s more than okay. Just soaked in some beauty.
Caryl Chirchill’s play “Love and Information” is all about moments, literally. In 100 minutes, 57 plays are performed. Some felt like haiku, a phrase overheard on the street. Others lingered long enough for some philosophy or a conundrum. Some didn’t make any sense. Others went for an easy laugh.
Some juxtaposed the obvious with the less so: the exhausted Elvis and Liberace impersonators discussing Israeli-Palestinian relations in the bar over a drink; the clowns getting dressed in their outrageous costumes while figuring out whether to have an affair; the woman in a gown and a tuxedoed man awaiting their performance dissect the tensions in a friendship that source from mathematical theory and the psychology of the self.
I especially loved the playlets with one sentence of dialogue with an actor reaction.
“Maybe you could read them a story.”
The response–a tear.
The bride and groom on a bench.
“There’s wind surfing or swimming with the dolphins,” she says.
He turns very pale and away from her.
Language is a Churchill forte. The dialogue is broken, overlapping, characters completing each other’s sentences. The scene with four actors inventing stories out of a translation of the Chinese characters for girl, mountain, and door reminds me of games we played in college or a self-conscious writer’s workshop. Gaminess both works for and against the overall effect.
The stage set is a simple box with a Sol Le Witt-style grid. There seems to be no way on or out, so that the actors are enclosed, cocooned, trapped. Darkness ends each playlet, interrupted by a box outlined in bare light bulbs around the vertical plane of the stage. Loud sounds sometimes relate to the next scene, sometimes not. Altogether, an intriguing game-like framework.
Yet at times, the show feels like acting exercises or the playwright’s experiments that should have been edited out. But who edits Caryl Churchill?
Still, the acting, mostly in duets, is delicious, the sets magical, and the seeming randomness does add up to something–a meditation on information that is meaningless when pursued for its own sake, secrets, memory (both spectacular and faulty), and the pain that comes from closing ourselves in to our own importance.
Life is made up of random encounters and impressions that seem to be speeding up every moment. This over-stuffed play and this day left me a bit breathless.
It only takes a moment to pause and reflect…