An audience walking into the Present Company space may think it has been had. Wrong. The play - or rather the 30 plays that comprise Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, written and directed by NeoFuturists' Bill Coelius, Ayun Halliday, Spencer Kayden, and Greg Kotis - is fast, hilarious, and goes much deeper than usually expected from this kind of evening. It can't be guaranteed that the hour it takes to perform these plays will change lives, but as long as audience members check their prejudices at the door, they will certainly be entertained and blown away by the NeoFuturists' commitment, precision of choices, and energy. All 30 plays can't be guaranteed to inspire unconditional love, but just think - even the ones you don't like will be over in a matter of seconds.
When the audience enter the theatre, the plays, numbered 1-30, are lined up on a rope that goes across the width of the theatre. The rules are simple: the audience picks out the plays in the order they want to see them. Someone from the audience calls out 10, say; a company member pulls down number 10, and they perform the play by saying "Go." When it's over, someone from the audience calls out another number, and they continue. The goal is to get 30 plays in at 60 minutes, so the players set a timer; when the timer reaches 60 minutes the games terminate. To keep the show fresh each week, at the end of the show an audience member rolls a die: the number on the die determines how many new pieces will be performed the following week. So if an audience rolls six (which was the case the night I was present), the company writes six new pieces and subtracts six existing ones.
What transcends the gimmick was that the evening is played full out with the urgency level set at life-and-death. After all, they had to get 30 plays in at 60 minutes. Although the sequence of the plays was random, the pieces were basically goofs, spoofs, and satires on poetry, acting, social values, and current events. The pieces never jarred or clashed with each other and if anything contrasted and complemented each other. At times, however, a piece went way over the head, but it was okay - it was over in a flash. The performers were outstanding, diving into the material with zest and insane stakes. Never was the acting fake or surface. If anything, it was surprisingly rich and grounded.
The sets and costumes were pretty much non-existent, and the lights
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Copyright 2000 Andrés J. Wrath