Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind
Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
Review by Susan Berlin | Season Schedule

Also see Susan's review of Stage Kiss

Bilal Dardai
Photo by Joe Mazza Brave Lux
The Chicago Neo-Futurists, making their fifth visit to Washington's Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, have been presenting some version of Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind since 1988. No two performances are alike, thanks to the company's reliance on chance and ongoing additions to and cuts from the script. Therefore, this review chronicles one particular performance—a wildly entertaining evening for audiences in an adventurous mood.

The structure of Too Much Light ... is rather like a physics experiment blending the scripted and the random. The Neo-Futurists rehearse 30 brief plays and hang 30 pieces of paper, each marked with number and title, from a wire above the stage. Their goal is to perform as many of the plays as they can in a continuous 60-minute period. (They set a timer and everything.)

Audience members receive "menus" listing the plays by title and number, as well as the cast members at that performance, and the audience determines the order of scenes by calling out numbers. Not only does the succession change from one show to the next, the company keeps things fresh by cutting some scenes and replacing them with others over the course of the run, meaning that the performance on closing night could be completely different from the opening.

The plays cover a gamut of topics and emotions. The funny ones include Pornogami (just think about it), GRECO-RAMEN (baby oil and bowls of noodles are not necessarily a good combination), and Painfully Literate Locker Room Rally, which uses classic literature to motivate athletes. On the other side, White Rage is a monologue that touches on violence in society, and two actors distill a definition of racial double standards into two gestures and two words. According to the Neo-Futurists, the common theme is truth, although sometimes it's a bit flexible.

Opening-night cast members Ida Cuttler, Lily Mooney, Bilal Dardai, Malic White, and Trevor Dawkins bring utter conviction and fearlessness to their portrayals. Perhaps the audience members should be prepared to do the same, since they may get blue paint smudged on their faces or wind up on stage at the end of Caring for Your Pet.

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind
December 7th - January 3rd, 2016
Written, directed, and performed by the Neo-Futurists
Created by Greg Allen
Ensemble: Kurt Chiang, Ida Cuttler, Bilal Dardai, Trevor Dawkins, Tif Harrison, Dan Kerr-Hobert, Lily Mooney, Malic White
641 D St. N.W., Washington, DC
Ticket Information: 202-393-3939 or

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