Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind is the revival of an original production by Greg Allen at the Neo-Futurist Theater in Chicago. The cast consists of four UIndy theater students who guarantee that they can perform 24 plays in 48 minutes. That is, they guarantee everyone in the audience a pizza slice if they don’t get through it all in time. This guarantee has a whiff of the absurd as do most of these mini-performances/sketches.
Pieces of paper with the number of these mini-plays are clipped to a line running above the stage. The audience dictates the flow of the performances by calling the next numbered performance out. The performers grab the piece of paper, look at the name of the skit on the back, and begin to perform. Each of the sketches is closed out two minutes later (give or take a minute or two) by a cast members shouting out “curtain!”
Although the individual sketches are scripted, all four actors delivered engaging performances that seemed spontaneous.
One of the performances is a literary-type talk show. The topic of discussion is a gangsta rap lyric that the panelists dissect with the most esoteric lit-crit lingo possible. There’s a performance art piece titled “What people assume I do when I say I’m a performance artist” that comes across like primal scream therapy.
One particular monologue—on the importance of the hand as an appendage, employing a multitude of hand gestures— beats any TED talk I’ve ever seen in terms of clarity. But it’s also hysterically funny. There’s a Shakespearean send-up or two. The piece called “How to War” should be self-explanatory. Perhaps the funniest is “Life’s a Breeze When You’re Young, White, and Male” where the actors, all female—all deepening their voices—tell us why.