Caryl Churchill’s Love and Information is a show comprised of 50 sketches, and this Solar Bear / Royal Conservatoire of Scotland production, is told primarily in BSL, with occasional speaking or music. It has two aims: one, to showcase the richness of BSL as a language and two, to explore themes of love and technology in a format which appeals to both hearing and D/deaf audiences.
The show definitely accomplishes both of its goals. Too often, BSL is done the grave injustice of being seen as nothing more than a series of glorified hand gestures. Love and Information’s actors prove that this is not the case; using a series of plotlines, they prove that it is every bit as expressive and intricate as spoken language.
The play itself is an excellent examination of love in the 21st century, incorporating a modern theme of technology with universal experiences of hope, disappointment, and affection. The individual scenes range from amusing (two friends trying to decipher Chinese poetry) to heartbreaking (two exes discussing memories and the fun they had together), making important points about the way we interact with each other and the impact we have on people’s lives.
From a hearing perspective, it encourages the viewer to look more closely at body language and facial expressions, asking us to examine the undercurrents of emotions which carry the sketches along.
The main issue with the show is that it is a little long – while the cast’s energy or enthusiasm never falters, 50 sketches is a lot to get through, and some of them feel a little rushed. The production would be equally meaningful with fewer scenes – although it is impressive that they can put so much meaning into just a few lines, it would be nice to have some of the concepts explored more thoroughly.
However, this aside, Love and Information is an incredibly moving and innovative performance. It challenges the viewer’s perceptions of love in the modern age, and touches upon relevant, difficult topics – such as climate change – with unerring subtlety and skill. Furthermore, making it accessible to two separate audiences is an excellent (and unfortunately all too rare) aspect of this unique performance