Inifinity is a relatable, philosophical story about love and time

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Infinity | Volcano Theatre (originally co-produced with Tarragon Theatre) | The Cultch | January 7 – 19, 2020

Time is a lot like love. Sometimes it doesn’t seem real until you’re confronted with it. Hannah Moscovitch’s play is full of authentic dialogue and interesting, neurotic characters. It’s deeply relatable while exploring abstract themes and presenting them in a way that makes you think deeply about the nature of time and the phenomenon of love.

Elliot (Jonathon Young) is a physicist struggling to finish his PhD; he’s the type who never feels like his work is done — the answer to it all is out there somewhere, just out of reach. Carmen (Amy Rutherford) is a composer working on her master’s degree. They meet at a party where Elliot declares his love for her and says he likes musicians because of their sense of time. As he goes on about Adorno and his work in theoretical physics, she falls for him and they begin a rocky relationship that is solidified by an unexpected pregnancy. “If you leave me alone with this kid, I will throw it in the garbage,” she says.

Sarah Jean (Emily Jane King), who we see first and learn about in parallel with her parents’ story, is a strange girl studying at Harvard and trying to figure out if love is real. Her romantic encounters up until that point haven’t exactly been conventional: a tryst with a professor, a lengthy relationship with a crush’s best friend.

Carmen is frustrated with Elliot’s need to work even after he finishes his PhD. He’s obsessive and single-minded. They fight often and she considers leaving him. “Very soon I’m going to forget not to fuck other people,” she says as she pleads for him to have lunch with her once a week. But something holds her back and she stays. Their conversations are always intense, intellectual, and fraught with conflicting emotions — Rutherford and Young brilliantly navigate these intense scenes with just the right balance of love and apathy.

Elliot’s musings on time are fascinating as he questions what time sounds like, what we can compare it to, and whether it is just an illusion. In a lecture about his latest book, he describes the early days of the Gregorian calendar and England’s unwillingness to adopt it. Eventually they were 11 days behind the continent until Lord Chesterfield lobbied to change it so that he and his mistress could have the same calendar. Elliot looks at Carmen and says, “I would change time for you.” It’s a beautiful moment that seems to confirm the strength of their feelings despite all their difficulties.

Sarah Jean’s stories about her love life are at times tragic and at times funny. King’s delivery is wonderful as she embodies feigned apathy so well and moves back and forth from child to adult seamlessly.

Accompanying the action is violinist Andrea Tyniec, playing Njo Kong Kie’s poignant compositions that provided transitions and moments of thought amidst the action.

While Elliot spent his adult life studying time and creating theories based on his work, it was love that gave him a new perspective and helped him see the truth. Sarah Jean goes through a similar journey as she learns about love and the fleeting nature of time. As Elliot observes, the past may be timeless and fixed, but the future is open, uncertain and up to us to shape.

 

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