By Mwangala Simataa ’18
You would be forgiven for thinking that a play titled “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind” was another ordinary affair with actors and actresses launching into sometimes vapid, sometimes lapidary monologues in the manner of what we are used to calling theater. But the play, or to be more precise, the collection of plays that the New York Neo-Futurists performed at the Williams Center for Arts on Wednesday was nothing close to ordinary.
Unlike a more conventional performance, this one took place in what seemed like an unorganized fashion. The members of the cast were on hand in order to hand out the list of plays to be performed and name tags with made-up names as the audience walked in. Among the names was “Trump.”
Once the audience members were seated, Rob, who seemed to be the lead member of the group, described the format of the show he and his group were going to perform. Thankfully, the stage that consisted of disparate chairs, boards, a stand and a rope, had already signaled that this show was going to be of a special kind of setting. Rob told the audience that his group was going to try to perform 30 plays in a space of 60 minutes, which some may have wondered whether the group could really put up a good play in an average of two minutes. To spice things up a bit, the audience was asked to shout the number of which play they wanted to see and Rob and his crew would try to pick out whichever number they heard. Then, the play with that number would be performed. And so the show began.
The show itself was very interactive and funny. A lot of the plays required the audience to shout or go up the stage to do something as instructed by the Neo-Futurists. One of the plays, titled “Experiments in gathering #1,” called for members of the audience stand within a triangle on stage and dance to a beat. And that was the play.
Throughout the show, many in the audience could not suppress their laughter; it burst out in different fashions, shouted at the pleasure of seeing the performance, or gasped at subject matter of the plays. It seems there was no topic the play could not touch.
A particularly cringe worthy moment occurred when one of the cast members walked on stage with a blank sheet of paper and slides supported on a stand. The actress then launched into a soliloquy about how to make soft core porn, though the soliloquy itself was more concerned with talking about the biology of male and female members, what to touch, what to move and when to do this and that.
The New York Neo-Futurists weren’t shy of talking about social and political issues in their plays, either. They had one play that featured a conversation between a person from Earth and another one from a distant universe. During their exchange, the two quickly learn that their planets face the same problems of environmental degradation, income-inequality, racism and the patriarchy. In the end, the earthling and alien disagree and call each other names because the male earthling condescendingly explains something to the female earthling. Not even aliens are immune to “mansplaining” it seems.
Despite the occasional venture into pointless diversions, “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind” is an eccentric and humorous production. But it does have lapses into pointlessness and an overwhelming feeling so that this isn’t a show one wants to watch with siblings or parents.