REVIEW: Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind

On paper, TOO MUCH LIGHT MAKES THE BABY GO BLIND is exactly the kind of show I tend to avoid.  Audience participation, experimental theatre, and full of “one-minute plays” are my idea of theatrical Hell.  But when the group reached out and asked me to come and my schedule was free – and I saw that it was only going to last for about an hour – well, I decided to go in with an open mind.

I’m really glad I did.

The premise is that there are 30 different short “plays” with no real theme and no real connection – and the cast will perform them in random order shouted out by the audience.  Some of them are full of physical humor. Some of them are clever.  Many of them are peppered with sexual references, which delighted the largely college-aged crowd on opening night.  There’s a timer, which is used more for comic effect.  The script hit or miss but that’s really not the point.

What makes the production so good is the amazingly charismatic cast.  Former Ensemble Theatre intern Brianna Bernard joins CCM Acting alumni Gabriella DiVincenzo, Landon Hawkins, Carter LaCava and Graham Lutes on stage for a fast-paced, raucous hour of theatrical fun.  Each of the cast has classical training – and a wicked sense of humor.  The show calls for bravery, as the cast doesn’t know which order the plays will occur nor do they know how the various audience members may react.

There is audience participation, but you can be an old fuddy-duddy like me and take off your name tag and the cast will allow you to fade into voyeurism and not engage with you directly.  The audience interaction is fairly tame and opening night was full of acting students and parents who gamely engaged – occasionally hilariously.  Theatre with an element of risk like this is very exciting to watch; I can only imagine how exhilarating it must be for the company.

What’s most exciting, though, is that for the first time in a while we have a new theatre collective in town.  This group of highly motivated professionals (and make no mistake, they are definite pros) is ambitious and ready to change the game.  Ella Eggold (producer of this piece), DiVencenzo, and Hawkins serve as the leadership and I look forward to what they do next as they partner with Clifton Players (Carol Brammer and Mindy Heithaus, specifically) in Liberty Exhibition Hall.

Up next: THREE, a “radical reimagining” of Chekov’s Three Sisters at the end of February.  Keep an eye out for it.