Ladies, germs, children of all levels of annoyingness: Permit me to introduce this evening’s guest Fringe-blogger, Mr. Glen Weldon.
You may have seen him at local theaters recently, sitting in the City Paper press seats: He’s the pale one. (And coming from me … )
Also he’s smart. And even if he did go and try to one-up my whole condoms-and-exclamation-points thesis from the other week with a Crisco-and-surgical gloves metaphor in this week’s review of Democracy, we’re glad to have him on our team.
Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind (30 Plays in 60 Minutes) Woolly Mammoth Mainstage
Remaining Performances: Thursday, July 26, 8 pm (SOLD OUT) Friday, July 27, 7 pm and 9 pm Saturday, July 28, 7 pm and 9 pm Sunday, July 29, 1 pm and 3 pm
They say: “The Chicago-based Neo-Futurists’ late-night sensation — continuously running since the Reagan administration — is an ever-changing attempt to perform 30 plays in 60 minutes! Audiences decide on the random order of these funny, personal, abstract, political and poignant plays, making every performance a unique experience not to be missed.”
Glen’s take: First off: Don’t think Fringe. You know that rough, haphazard, catch-as-catch-can frisson that the best and worst of Fringe provides? Yeah, you won’t find that here. The Neo-Futurists have been doing what they do for a good long while, in Chicago and in New York, and even though this is the road-show version, the five writer/performers are polished, practiced and supremely comfortable in their own skins. (Yes, from a Capital Fringe perspective, they’re ringers, but don’t hate them because they’re beautiful.) So if it’s the feeling of discovery that you Fringe for, keep looking; this show has already been discovered, thank you very much. If, on the other hand, you Fringe hoping to hit upon as show that’s fast, smart, risky and (not for nothing) fucking funny, sit down and start screaming out numbers between one and 30.
The numbers, see, correspond to the titles of plays, which are listed on a menu provided to each member of the audience. This menu changes each night (a die-roll at the final curtain determines how many plays are cut, and thus how many new plays are written to fill the gap), and the audience’s screams determine the order in which each of the roughly two-minute plays are performed.
Words to the Wise Department: Thursday’s show has already sold out, and they tell me that both of the Friday shows are getting awfully close, so: chop chop, people. It would be presumptuous, if not downright churlish, for me to tell you which plays to ask/scream for, because A) there’s no guarantee they’ll still be on the menu, and B) it kind of defeats the whole experimental purpose and robs the evening of the thrill of discovery and whatnot.
But, you know, screw that: the one about after-school specials, the one about Purple Rain, the one about Milwaukee and yearbooks, the one about the Stupid Love Play. And, especially, magically, transcendentally, No. 5: Half Naked Ninja Pudding Pie.
See it if: Your dogged search for diamonds amid Fringe’s rough has thus far proven particularly rough.
Skip it if: You routinely turn your back on once-favorite bands if they sign to a major label, and you still resent Dylan for going electric.