Love and Information Credit: Courtesy of the artist

Kim McKean directs Caryl Churchill’s 2012 assault on the senses disguised as a play. Assembled from dozens of fragmented vignettes breathlessly performed over 80 lightning-fast minutes, Love and Information leaves one feeling a bit whiplashed afterward. But the cumulative weight of what at first seems like cacophony makes itself felt if you just let it wash over you rather than looking for a narrative or an explicit point.

Strobe lights, glitchy TV monitors, and multiple references to social media and tabloid scandal enhance the overall portrait of a society that can’t pay attention or sit still, but that desperately wants to connect, to have something to believe in. The overall effect is a sort of live-action dramatization of the Internet. It puts love, hate, jokes, advertising, and politics in a blender and occasionally spits out semicoherent bits. But as soon as one starts to get into one scene, it’s gone, replaced by something completely unrelated.

By employing a crazy-quilt approach to storytelling, Churchill ably evokes the mediated existence most of us are currently drowning in. It’s a place where context is removed, meaning is only fleetingly visible, and distraction passes for hope. If the purpose of art is to point a mirror at its audience, this is one piece of looking glass that could lead to utter despair. But it’s also very hard to look away from. It’s a kind of 1984 for 2019.  v