57 Vignettes Explore Our Need to Know in Love and Information

Michael Evans Lopez and Betsy Moore grin above the boxed-in Ashley Steed in Caryl Churchill's masterful Love and Information.
Michael Evans Lopez and Betsy Moore grin above the boxed-in Ashley Steed in Caryl Churchill's masterful Love and Information.
Mainak Dhar

One of the more compelling hypotheses for the origin of complex language is that it arose out of the primordial compulsion to gossip, talking being a more efficient form of social grooming than manual delousing.

Fast-forward two million years, and that irresistible, Pandora-like need to know (and tell), regardless of the consequences, has transmogrified into the bewildering information Godzilla of the internet.

How something born from a trait so innately human can now threaten our ability to live authentic and fully empathetic lives is the overarching paradox explored in Love and Information, Caryl Churchill’s masterful, 2012 collage of 57 vignettes that is currently getting its Los Angeles premiere in director Matthew McCray’s astutely imagined production.

It’s difficult to single out a standout piece or performance. There’s the teasing verbal tug-of-war of the opener, in which Betsy Moore wheedles a salacious secret out of a resistant yet eager-to-tell Sarah Rosenberg; or the series of playfully grotesque, Oliver Sacks-like riffs on the phenomenology of cognition, memory and learning — including brain researcher Melina Bielefelt’s grisly description of decapitating adorable little Easter chicks.

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There's forensic shrink Michael Evans Lopez grilling mass murderer Dan Via on the exact sound of his homicidal divine revelation. And there are comically condensed mini-melodramas, like Bielefelt dropping the bombshell on kid sister Ashley Steed that their true blood relationship isn’t what she’s been told.

Throughout it all, McCray, his pinpoint ensemble (that also features Richard Azurdia, Darren Bailey, Daniel Getzoff, Cindy Nguyen and Alex Wells) and an extraordinary design team (including Jeff Polunas’ emblematic sound; Chu-hsuan Chang’s vivid lighting; Keith Skretch’s sleek video) ably convey Churchill’s gemlike ironies along with their collective vision of hope.

GO! Son of Semele Ensemble, 3301 Beverly Blvd., Westlake; through December 13. Sonofsemele.org.


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