Monday, May 24, 2010

Still in the Dark About 'Too Much Light'

Theater Review

Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind
The Neo-Futurarium

What do I know?

I mean who am I to say that Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind: 30 Plays in 60 Minutes doesn't seem like anything special? After all, it is the longest running "play" in Chicago, dating all the way back to 1988. And there is also a long-running New York production.

In Chicago, people start lining up an hour before the 11:30pm weekend shows just to make sure they get in to the 150-seat theater. And from my newbie attendance on Saturday, after participating in the Neo-Futurists prime-time show (Crisis: A Musical Game Show), it was apparent that many in the audience were hardcore devotees, as they knew precisely when to shout out numbers that decided the order that 30 pre-written mini-plays would be performed within an hour.

So I won't tell you that TMLMTBGB was bad, while noting that it supposedly changes substantially week-to-week and is totally different every couple months. So maybe the material I saw isn't indicative of how good it usually is.

And I won't tell you not to see it; that's up to you.

But I will tell you that I didn't like it.

Perhaps it's one of those things, like Reality TV and Nickelback, that millions of people love, but I just don't get. Or maybe it's the format; I'm doubtful that Shakespeare, Miller or Mamet could regularly write 3-minute plays that I would find compelling, insightful and/or hilarious.

But whatever the reason, and sure, maybe it's just me, but in the 60 minutes I was there--though on my watch it sure seemed like 67 minutes--I almost never laughed, was made to think or ever really cared. I guess I must've missed something, but it seemed like a concept better served by improv, not pre-scripted pieces. While watching it, The Emperor's New Clothes fable kept running through my head.

The performers were energetic and likely quite talented, but the whole thing really did nothing for me. So next time I have an hour to waste, I think I'd be better off avoiding 'Too Much Light.'

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