The New York Neo-Futurists present the best of their series of innovative two-minute plays.
The New York Neo-Futurists have been performing Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind since 2004, and it's still different every week. This innovative theater experience features an ensemble of performers putting on thirty plays in sixty minutes, jumping in and out of the audience and more than anything just having a good time. And this time of year, it's time for their Best of 2014 show.
As you enter the theater, you are given a program that you then fold into a "menu" of your thirty play options for the evening. As soon as you are prompted, you get to shout out the number of the play you want the actors to perform next, and whatever number they hear first goes. From the very beginning, you are part of the action.
Some of the two-minutes plays are parodies, some are serious and some are just plain weird. Many of the pieces are very relevant to current events, especially the darker plays like the choral "This Play Could Be Called" (the sentence ends "another black boy bites the dust"), or the personal monologues "Catcalling" and "Pretty, Funny."
Other favorites include "Optical Radiation Electromagnetic Amplification" (a fantastic light show using handheld laser pointers and mirrors), "Opticabb Radiabbage Electromacabbage Amplificabbage" (the same act performed with the lights replaced by cabbages), "Reverse Strip Club" and "Late Night Infauxmercial: Now That's What I Call Actor Warm-ups, Vol. 1." With no control over when each play is called, these plays could occur in any order, bouncing between the profound and the ridiculous at any time.
And of course, there is the epic crowd favorite, "Because Seamless Web insists on running subway ads that ignore the plight of the New York City food delivery worker by advocating for customers to relax at home while the delivery person climbs five flights of stairs or fights a snowstorm or heatwave, uninsured, we will order food on Seamless from our local deli. Once they arrive we will all stand and cheer loudly as they walk down the aisle. We will chant their name and continue giving them a standing ovation as they leave."
This is also a performance in which the line between audience and actor blurs. When not performing, the ensemble comes and joins the rest of the audience, commenting on the action on stage as they see fit. Certain pieces take place in the middle of the seated audience, and at a few special moments, audience members are called on stage themselves to hold up signs, dance in unison or take vodka shots. You never know what you're going to get.
In the typical Too Much Light performance, it's a race against the clock to get all thirty plays in before the time runs out, but for the special best-of shows, you do get to see all of them. As the plays continue, the debris from previous acts accumulates on the stage, from fake snow and cabbage to a lot of balloons, as the individual pieces blur together into one masterpiece.
If there is one thing that Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind proves, it's that experimental theater doesn't have to be alienating; it can be exciting, engaging and a ton of fun to watch. Stop by the theater any time and you'll be in for a new experience--the New York Neo-Futurists show no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
The New York Neo-Futurists are a large and diverse group, but Friday's cast featured Dylan Marron, Meg Bashwiner, Cecil Baldwin, Christopher Borg, Mike Puckett, Rob Neill, Daniel Mirsky, Colin Summers, Katy-May Hudson, Nicole Hill, Joey Rizzolo and Connor Sampson.
Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind plays at the Kraine Theater on Friday and Saturday nights at 10:30pm. The Best of 2014 show goes on December 12 and 13, and then the new rotation begins again on January 2.
This article was previously published on CHARGED.fm.