Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind by Neo-Futurists

By Elyce Phillips Neo-futurists

The San Francisco Neo Futurists have brought Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind to Melbourne International Comedy Festival this year. It’s a theatre format that’s been around since the late ’80s in which 30 super short plays are performed in one hour. The order is decided by the audience and the “menu” of plays changes up each night, so you’re always guaranteed to see a unique show.

The Neo Futurists are a high-spirited, energetic bunch. In fact, they have an almost evangelical glow about them when they take to the stage. You can tell that they love and are passionate about what they do. All five performers are very talented and their ability to rapidly switch between scenes was impressive. Plays like ‘The Complete and Condensed Stage Directions of Eugene O’Neil Vol 1: Long Day’s Journey Into Night Act Two, Scene 1’ and ‘Reverse Strip Club’ were beautiful examples of simple and delightful physical comedy.

There were some elements of this show that were a little jarring. The performers warn at the start that although this is the comedy festival, some of their plays are serious. And while serious moments in comedic works can often be used to great effect, in a show like this where each short play is an isolated, contextless fragment, these moments came out of nowhere and disappeared just as quickly, leaving little time to process them. They were met with some awkward laughter, the audience unsure what to do with these dramatic moments or perhaps searching for the humour within them, genuinely unsure whether this was supposed to be one of the funny plays.

The format is one that is supposed to be about honesty. The audience and the performers play themselves. But there was a disconnect in the well-rehearsed honesty of the players in some of the pieces. Here, their work didn’t have the spontaneity of truth and at times felt a bit like the “this is deep and personal and serious, you guys” monologues of a performing arts student.

Having said that, the hour is a lot of fun. The randomised order brings a great energy to proceedings and gets the audience involved. The novelty of the format is exciting and there are some absolute gems on their menu. Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind is well worth checking out if you fancy something a bit different.

Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind is on at the Tuxedo Cat until April 6