Review by Charlotte Guest
Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind is a mammoth performance disguised as a lowbrow theatrical romp. What the Neo-Futurists packed into a 60-minute show was nothing short of colossal, ranging from slapstick comedy and mind-boggling word play to social commentary with gravitas.
Too Much Light is designed to never be the same show twice. Upon arrival, audience members are handed a “menu” on which is listed the titles of that night’s thirty two-minute plays, and from which, when cued by the code word “curtain,” the audience shouts, pantomime-style, the number of the play they want to see next. It is explained that each show after opening night will begin with the rolling of a die, and the number rolled will be the number of plays cut and replaced from the menu. This means that, in the words of performer and Artistic Director Ryan Good, “if you’ve seen the show once, you’ve seen the show once.” What ensues is a complex and deliberate chaos, a fine-tuned breathlessness.
The term “menu” made me imagine the show as a thirty-course degustation, which turned out to be a useful metaphor as there was so much to digest. Dadaism, Futurism, Modernism and Meta-Modernism are evidently sources of inspiration for the Neo-Futurists, much of the experimentalism being upfront nods to these movements (and, of course, acknowledged on their website). This is not to say that Too Much Light is simply pastiche, but rather that it masterfully utilises the styles and practices of these schools as vehicles through which to address contemporary issues. Each two-minute play ‘touched upon’ (in the bodily, kinetic manner this phrase suggests) a topic with acerbic wit and sincerity, ranging from the ill founded yet common disdain for breast-feeding in public to the way music can make everything epic. In one moment you are listening to the theory that the Boko Haram are Vikings who travelled through time, the next you are considering the pros and cons of altering the Gregorian calendar so that every month has twenty-eight days.
Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind is an ever-evolving exposé of the absurdities of modern life. It unfolds like a kaleidoscope of culture. It meets needs you didn’t know you had. It raises questions as answers to questions you have harboured but never articulated. The Neo-Futurists will have you laughing, recoiling, and above all else, thinking. Highly recommended.
Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind is part of Perth’s Fringeworld festival 2015, playing at Teatro 2 in the Pleasure Garden from 2nd – 4th February.