Theatre Review: Love and Information

My friend and I watched the Sacramento premiere of Love and Information by Caryl Churchill tonight, at the Capital Stage Theatre. With only four rows in a semi circle around a small stage, the theatre contributes to the intimate feel of the play, with the actors coming in and out of the doors and from back stage.

The set design was simple: a series of panels and boxes set at varying distances from the back; when the theatre lights were up, the panels showed large, square brick-like tiles in shades of blue. When the lights went down, the panels radiated with large electrical conducting lines  in glow-in-the-dark paint: they were now broken panels of a motherboard. As the play progressed, the actors would move boxes around, set up little areas of activity, and then just as easily, move them away. It was choreographed beautifully, like a dance.

The play opened with two actors dressed like teens, pouring over a pulp magazine, trying to outdo each other on the facts they know about a favorite actor. Their desperate desire to be the one who knew more poured out of them, the frustration, the final acknowledgement that they would have to go back to the magazine for more and more trivia raised laughter from the audience, but was ultimately sad. Vignette upon vignette followed, and I quickly realized that this was the play: slice of life scenes of actors, either in pairs or groups, or on their own, walked on and off the stage, showing the various ways that people try to communicate with each other, try to find commonalities. There were so many of these: misplaced memories, an alzheimer’s patient with no memory of his wife who was trying desperately to remind him of the special love they had had for each other, people with mental disorders trying to share their deepest thoughts with people who couldn’t quite understand, old lovers reminiscing about their long past romance, neither of them remembering anything about what the other said.

At various times, a silent, still man would show up on the left of the stage with his back to the audience, with people coming up behind him, trying to reach him, with no avail. A similar scene played out on the right side of the stage, this time with a silent, still woman, her misery and depression showing in her stance, arms hugging herself, protecting herself from everyone and the world. There was a scene in a gym, with two men working out, one man trying to convince the other that his fascination with his virtual girlfriend was normal and completely acceptable. The other man’s face and voice showed his escalating frustration beautifully. Another scene with a woman crying over a news bit on her computer feed about babies dying, drowning, failed to incite any reaction in her husband who, after trying to take in what she was telling him, turned back to his smartphone, unfeeling.

What stood out was the fast pace with which the play moved: at one point, I looked at my watch and we were already an hour in. The relentless nature in which the vignettes poured onto the stage made me think of my newsfeed on my computer or smartphone. There was always something else to look at, something else to either be disgusted at, people to be bored with or fascinated by, no real satisfaction or a resolution, because then we were off to the next scene. And isn’t that just how we feel now?  Our news and social connections are lightening fast, quick and brief, requiring only a limited attention span, and in the end, we feel unsatisfied, disjointed, disconnected when we are virtually connected to everything, but in reality, nothing.

At the very end, there is a man rattling off trivia questions to his girlfriend, and she’s responding with what I assume are the right answers in a machine-gun manner, frenzied and excited. He interrupts the flow of questions with one of his own: “Do you love me?” and she snaps at him, “Don’t do that!” After a slight pause, he continues with the trivia questions, and she continues to give the answers, but then she turns to face him, and I say under my breath, just as she does, “I do.”

And that was it. It was done. A connection was made, and it was enough.

I didn’t like the play. But as I walked away from the theatre, and as I drove home, explaining it to my boyfriend on the phone, the words tumbling out of me, the meanings of each vignette sinking in, layers upon layers, I realized that it made an impact.

It connected with me.


Capital Stage Theatre
2215 J Street
Sacramento, CA 95816



Performance Review: Disney on Ice Let’s Celebrate!

Watching the latest installment of Disney on Ice show Let’s Celebrate! with my kids (old hats at Disney) and my boyfriend (never been to a DoI show before tonight) was an interesting experience.  Driving up to the Sleep Train Arena, I listened to the kids explain what to expect from the show, talking over each other in their excitement, wondering which characters they’d see…

Anjali: I bet we see Ana and Elsa (from Frozen)
Nik: I don’t know…we would have seen their pictures in the flyer…
Anjali: They’ll be there.  Maybe like a surprise at the end.

The conversation had started earlier over dinner at BJ’s, where I broke it to Nik that I had mixed up the dates and we were not in fact seeing Marvel Live tonight but the Disney on Ice instead.  He was disappointed and it took a while for him to get out of his funk (a root beer and chocolate chip pizookie helped immensely).

Anjali: There’ll be the boy characters as well, there always are.  You’ll like it, Nik!
Nik: Hmmmmpf.

After getting our free passes at the Will Call window, we walked into the Arena, surrounded by families with their children dressed in their favorite Disney costumes. Passing by the booths filled with Disney character toys, mugs, sparkling wands, crowns, etc., Nik cheered up a little, asking if he could get a toy.  “Maybe later,” I replied, thinking of the playroom full of similar items.

Settling into our seats, we watched the people that filled the seats around us, listening to their excited chatter.  The little girls directly behind us, ages 4 and 6, knew everything there was to know about Disney, as we were about to find out…

The show started and as always, it was engaging, lively, and fun.  Mickey and Gang opened with a lively dance, and then the various love stories were played out as the prince/princess couples skated out and danced to their signature songs.  And the little girls behind us sang along, loudly, to each and every song.  Even the ones from Mulan and Lilo & Stitch!  After frowning at me a few times, my daughter decided to enjoy the stereo experience (thankfully!)

The show took us through the various seasons, Halloween was especially fun with the Nightmare Before Christmas characters and sets.  Jack Skellington was a huge hit with my son.  I especially loved seeing the villains we love to hate join him on stage: Maleficent, Captain Hook, Sleeping Beauty’s old crone with the apple (watching the kids in the audience warn Mickey not to take the apple was a highlight!), Jafar, and Cruella DeVille.

Other characters who made an appearance: Peter Pan, the Fairy Godmother, Lilo and Stitch (a fun moment where a group of fire dancers lit the ice on fire and made the crowds gasp), Mulan, the Toy Story toys, and many more.  The show ended with an ode to love, in honor of Valentine’s day, where Minnie Mouse found her true love, Mickey.

While we didn’t see Elsa and Ana in this show, my daughter perked up when walking out of the arena, we were handed flyers for the Frozen show coming up later this month.  Nik was talking over the finer points of the show with my boyfriend, and I interrupted their conversation…

Me: Were you disappointed that it wasn’t the Marvel Live show?
Nik: no, that’s okay, Mom, it might have even been a slightly better show!

High praise from a kid who hates princesses with a passion.

There’s still time to get tickets and enjoy this fun family show… use Code ESHQ25 to Save 25%

While I received free passes from Feld Entertainment to watch the show and share my opinion with my readers, my opinions are 100% my own.  As you probably know, I am honest in my reviews and wouldn’t say I liked something if I didn’t!

Venue Review: Bows and Arrows

It is hard to categorize this place, which is why I titled this piece “Venue Review.”

An odd concept: clothing (some new, some consignment) for sale up front, the a large empty space (for performances), local artist endeavors on the walls, a lounge/cafe selling some alcohol, soups, salads, sandwiches, and then an adorable patio out back.  It all seems oddly disjointed, and I never feel quite comfortable enough when I go there.

I’ve attended a couple of events there over the past few months, most recently to watch a friend’s husband’s trio perform.  It seems to be a popular space for local writing groups or performance artists to use for their events, and I look forward to attending more events there in the future.

1815 19th St
Sacramento, CA 95811
(916) 822-5668

Review: Studio 24

One of my personal goals for the year was to attend an improv.  Dear god why, you ask?  Well, a new actor friend touted it as the best thing for me, given how much I feel the need to be in control of a situation.  And improv is the very antithesis of control.

So, while we were perusing for things to do one weekend, the Improv Night at Studio 24 jumped out of the screen at my friend.  I tried to scroll quickly through and deflect his attention, but once his sights are locked, it is almost impossible to get out of his missile-like focus.

“We are going to this.” he said.
“No, we are not,” said I.
“Yes.  You’ll love it.  It will be good for you,” he said.
“No, HELL no, I won’t, and no, it will not be good for me,” said I.

So we went.  And I was a ball of nerves as we walked into the studio. It helped that my  confident actor friend couldn’t open the front door.  He kept pushing on it, and the secretary finally had to motion him to pull the door open.  (That boosted my self-confidence to no end, let me tell you!)  Once inside, we joined several people milling about in the large waiting area, making idle conversation, until we were directed to go upstairs to the little theatre, where we sat facing a brightly lit stage.

Cody, the main guy, walked us through what to expect: basically, an opening ice-breaker session where we would all HAVE to participate, and then a series of little vignettes that we could volunteer to participate in.  I felt like I had taken a plunge in ice water…I was that nervous.

The ice breaker went well (again, it helped that my actor friend got eliminated well before I did), and then I sat back to enjoy the rest of the two hours.  And it was enjoyable: got to see actors and wannabe actors of all different ages, sizes, and levels of attractiveness get up on the stage, make fools of themselves, show moments of brilliance, bore us silly, make us laugh….

It was a good introduction to improv.  Cody and his staff did a great job of keeping the momentum going, and engaging the audience.  Will I go back?  Maybe, with a group of friends, so we can all look silly together!

Studio 24
2220 K St
Sacramento, CA 95816
(916) 442-8262