Blackfriars’ ‘Too Much Light’ has laughs, energy, and some cringe | Theater

A timer projected on the wall and brightly-colored sheets of paper strung on a clothesline across the phase greet the viewers at Blackfriars Theatre for its generation of “Too A great deal Light Helps make the Toddler Go Blind.” The sheets consist of figures, each individual corresponding to a engage in that will be performed throughout the exhibit.

The premise of “Too A lot Gentle,” which operates by means of Feb. 13, is this: 30 micro-plays in 60 minutes. The plays are scripted, but the purchase in which they are executed is not. The audience reads from a menu of performs and calls out the quantity of the one they’d like to see following, providing the show the “anything can happen” electrical power of a night of improv.

Considering that its inception in 1988 by Greg Allen and the Neo-Futurists, a Chicago-centered collective of writers and performers, this participate in has been widely made nationally and its cultural impression has transcended theater. It even inspired a “This American Life” episode in 2003.

No matter whether you’re a longtime fan of the demonstrate or are just curious to working experience it, Blackfriars gives a strong creation. Kerry Young’s direction stays devoted to the fast-paced, very well-structured chaotic spirit of the piece, and the solid associates produce a social gathering-like atmosphere via their amiability and enthusiasm.

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  • &#13 &#13 Photo BY RON HEERKINS/ COURTESY OF BLACKFRIARS THEATRE&#13 &#13
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  • &#13 The total solid of Blackfriars Theatre’s “Far too A great deal Light Can make the Child Go Blind.”&#13
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The actors observe the Neo-Futurists’ ethos of approaching the night with “absolute honesty,” likely by their authentic names as they race by way of every perform with the support of the viewers. As a heads up, viewers participation does not often feel optional, primarily if you have an aisle seat.

What are these quick plays about? With the caveat that diverse items will be presented each and every night time, some recurring matters from the opening night time show include heterosexual conflict, violence, comedic gags, riffs on cultural references like Shakespeare, and self-conscious jokes about generating theatre. There were being pretty a lot of all those.

Though these parts will have to have felt new in the late 1980s, the crafting leaves much to be wanted when performed in an World wide web age that has mastered the art of 15-next amusement. The innovation, humor, and social commentary of TikTok sets a substantial bar that most of these plays never meet up with.

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&#13 Jeff Siuda, left, and Abby Park perform in Blackfriars Theatre's production of "Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind." - PHOTO BY RON HEERKINS/ COURTESY OF BLACKFRIARS THEATRE&#13

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  • &#13 Jeff Siuda, remaining, and Abby Park conduct in Blackfriars Theatre’s generation of “Also Significantly Light Can make the Infant Go Blind.”&#13
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Some of the plays did amuse — shout out to “Poultrygeist” — but a number of of the plays felt like newbie crafting exercise routines or even worse, dated. The inclusion of “Flammable Pants” felt particularly disappointing for 2022. The piece asks the viewers to be genuine about specific things that are implied to be shameful or embarrassing, together with human encounters that activists have used many years hoping to de-stigmatize, this kind of as getting homosexual or struggling with psychological well being.

Since the buy is random, but brains like patterns, the audience will the natural way glance for this means in what they see. This can be entertaining, since it signifies an viewers member will have a completely diverse expertise than their neighbor. Considering that I’m a geek for narrative composition, I enjoyed that “Zenith” got preferred all over the time in the night when a story’s climax would generally take place. Regular men and women probably would not treatment.

The randomized buy can also be a detriment, however. “Memorial Day,” a piece that decries gun violence, appeared to be try out to present somber social commentary. But it received laughs from an audience that was primed for a participate in as silly as its predecessors. The glib “How to War,” which relies on traumatic visuals for shock worth, felt exploitative as it promptly dismissed serious environment tragedies to shift on to the upcoming perform.

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&#13 Melanie McBride (let) and Danny Kincaid-Kunz (right) with cast of "Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind" at Blackfriars Theatre. - PHOTO BY RON HEERKINS/ COURTESY OF BLACKFRIARS THEATRE&#13

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  • &#13 Melanie McBride (enable) and Danny Kincaid-Kunz (appropriate) with cast of “Much too A lot Mild Can make the Child Go Blind” at Blackfriars Theatre.&#13
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The evening was redeemed by the charisma and camaraderie of the cast. Just about every actor in the ensemble of 12 introduced a thing unique and worthwhile to the demonstrate. In a short sum of time, they conveyed their identity by means of their clothing, have an effect on, and physicality.

At the conclusion of each individual exhibit, an viewers member rolls a die to make a decision how several plays from that night’s general performance will be swapped out with others from the “Too A lot Light” repertoire for the next night’s efficiency.

The 30 performs that get offered might be hits or misses, but the actors executing them are a pleasure to observe and, the good news is, that doesn’t improve every single evening.

Katherine Varga is a freelance author for Metropolis. Responses on this post can be directed to Daniel J. Kushner, CITY’s arts editor, at [email protected].

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