For most, it’s tough to try and squeeze one play into 60 minutes. But in that time span, the New York Neo-Futurists perform 30. “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind” — performed twice a week, every week — is their ever-changing, ever-evolving attempt to make the impossible happen.
These 30 plays are not your typical two-minute theatrical fodder. They are bold, topical commentaries stemming from the lives of the cast. The Neo-Futurists’ mantra is “here as we are,” which is reflected in the autobiographical nature of the performance. Rather than playing characters on a stage, The Neo-Futurists act as themselves for the show’s entirety. Each piece is based completely in truth, whether they are presenting on relevant cultural topics or reenacting the minutiae of their daily lives — as they do in “When Friends Flake in January,” which is a hilarious ballet interpretation of a friend flaking out on plans —the messages of their pieces are impossible to forget.
One of their most impressive plays is “Yes. All Men,” which involves actor Mike Puckett standing on stage alone, pouring vodka into a glass as he talks about his experience as a bartender. Puckett describes men kissing their drunk dates and those women not kissing back — just merely conceding. He ponders on this all too common occurrence, wondering if it is in the name of politeness, or something deeper. All the while, Puckett pours and pours the vodka, the cup eventually overflowing. As an audience member, it is impossible not to become spellbound by his tale.
The truly impressive aspect of the show is its perpetual novelty. An audience member could go to the show every week and enjoy a different experience as the order of the plays is constantly changed and new plays are swapped in.
The spontaneity of each week’s performance is decided by tossing dice. At the end of each weekend performance an audience member is invited to toss a dice, and the combined number of two dice-tosses is the number of plays that have to be completely re-written for next week’s performances. Every show is a completely new experience, and the Neo-Futurists like to say, “If you’ve seen the show once, you’ve seen the show once!”
The impermanence of this format truly mimics reality and heightens the show’s impact. These short plays are never something you get used to, nor are they anything close to what you expect. The play’s fleeting nature means that you can never experience one of their plays in the same way again. The Neo-Futurists leave the audience constantly yearning—and returning for more.
“Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind” is performed every Friday and Saturday at 85 E 4th St.
This article initially appeared here in Washington Square News.