Award-winning British playwright Caryl Churchill, best known for Top Girls, Cloud Nine, and Serious Money, has been lauded for both radical experimentation and social critique—often with an infusion of comedy and music. Main Street Theater is bringing her 2012 play, Love and Information, to H-Town as a regional premiere.
13 actors have the challenge of playing as many as 100 characters in 70 scenes. Director Philip Hays describes the production as a “play-or, more accurately, a compilation of little plays exploring the role of technology in contemporary relationships.” Sound jarring? Maybe no more than getting 70 Facebook or texts messages—except they revolve around love.
Hays gives some insight into what audiences can expect from this production:
Churchill is such a major British playwright—what themes most interest her, and how does this play address real relationships in contemporary life?
In the case of Love and Information, I think she’s most interested in exactly those themes: real relationships and contemporary life. The play feels a little like surfing social media, encountering various aspects of human interactions, from the mundane to the extraordinary and everything in between. The scenes revolve around a variety of relationships and situations, many of which audiences will find quite relatable, but the unifying thread that ties them all together is humanity.
As a director, what fascinates you most about her plays, and what has been most gratifying and challenging for this particular production?
Churchill seems to be constantly reinventing her approach and style. Each of her plays embraces a logic and world that is unique to itself. In this case, the piece bears only passing resemblances to a traditional play. There is no plot, there are no named characters, there are few stage directions, just a series of seemingly unrelated dialogues. The challenge for us has been to interpret and contextualize the scenes to make them recognizable as real moments between real people, even as the play as a whole is a bit more surreal. The most gratifying thing has been to discover how well all these unrelated scenes work together as a whole. Each moment is discrete and singular, but to witness them all together in a rush is a really special experience.
What do you want the audience to get out of seeing this play?
The play is a sort of ride, and if they are willing to strap in and be transported by it, I think it can be a lot of fun. But I also hope that being presented with such an avalanche of human moments, they are moved more deeply: by awe, empathy, whatever. Any play seeks in its own way to hold the proverbial mirror up to the audience, but very few have as many different reflections as this one, like facets of a gem.
Feb 13–March 5. $36–39. Main Street Theater, 2540 Times Blvd. 713-524-6706. mainstreettheater.com