Love and Information: Ethical Spectatorship, Freedom, and the Limits of Time

Helena Grehan


Caryl Churchill’s play Love and Information deals with the changed and changing nature of relationships in the current highly technologised world. ‘It is entirely open as a text, comprising anywhere between 51 and 76 scenes, and with over a hundred characters but no specified number of actors’ (Upton 2015: 4). In each individual scene characters grapple with topics such as: fear, insecurity, fragmentation, isolation, love, loyalty, loss, betrayal, and pain. Each of the scenes introduces one issue or situation—it is as if we are presented with (up to) 76 moments from daily life in miniature. But this is also a play in which we encounter the complexities of the current age both in terms of the work’s content and its form, or mode of delivery. Each scene is precise, sharp, short, and open-ended. The lines are not allocated to any character and no specific directions are given on how each discrete scene might be framed. The work as a whole builds a rich collage of moments that replicate the sense of intensification and pressure we experience, as individuals in the neoliberal West. Love and Information mirrors our lives and our constant rushing from screen to conversation or encounter and back to screen. We see a range of characters who grapple with, and yet are never quite given the space or time to resolve, issues or feelings raised during their brief encounters. As spectators at the performance we are cast into an uneasy relationship with these scenes and these characters because the pace of the work deliberately thwarts any attempt at connectedness.

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