Blinded by The Light

Improvised dramatic production revitalizes the Brooklyn Lyceum

You’re in Park Slope with your honey, you’ve just had a fabulous dinner, and you’re both up for a show. You’d like to see a play, but your partner is in the mood for comedy. There’s no need to fear; the Neo-Futurists are here, with their innovative show, “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind.” This combination play/improv performance is like theater for the reality TV generation.

The show gathers a group of local talent together to perform 30 short plays, each in 60 seconds. Impossible? Almost, but not quite, thanks to audience participation. This interactive performance asks the audience to call the curtain for each short skit, by number directing the start of the next play from a menu of 30 choices with titles such as “Homage: Or, I Love Neck Face,” “Krakatoa,” and “Who You Calling Faggot, Faggot?” The clock is set, and players race against time to perform all 30 plays.

These mini-plays, though very short, are amazingly complex, with extensive use of props. In one scene, two single audience members are chosen to sit at a candlelit table over a bottle of wine for a “blind date” which runs throughout the remainder of the performance. In another, entitled “Esther Williams’ Fabulous Bathing Beauties,” the female ensemble members don bathing caps and goggles, splash around in tubs of water, and “swim” around the stage in homage to the play’s namesake.

Since the audience chooses the order, each show is a completely unique experience. And, to sweeten the pot, at the end of each show, a roll of a die indicates the number of new plays the group will have to write and learn for the next weekend’s performance.

Originally created in 1988 by Greg Allen, “Too Much Light” was a Chicago institution for years until it migrated to the Big Apple in the mid-90s. Now, the Brooklyn Lyceum is the place to be on weekends for this high-energy, experimental performance.

A recent visit found a packed house, many of them repeat visitors, who clamored for the chance to direct the show. The cast members rushed into action and got through all 30 plays with 20 seconds to spare. And although it was nearly 1 a.m. by the time the crowd dispersed, all were visibly charged by the players’ high-energy hijinks.

If you’re ready to venture beyond Broadway for some fun, “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind” is definitely worth the trip to Brooklyn.

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