At around 10 p.m. on a Friday or Saturday night on East 4th street you are likely to find a long line of people holding gold coins and small plastic astronauts or fireman. Though this happens every weekend, people are happy to come back again and again for that staple show: The New York Neo-Futurists' Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind.
As some of you might remember, I saw The Complete & Condensed Stage Directions of Eugene O'Neill: Vol. 1 Early Plays/Lost Plays four times, so I hope you don't think I ignored T.M.L.M.T.B.G.B.! But this weekend the show was a special edition of the classic Neo-Futurists staple called The F.U. Show (a.k.a. The Fair Use Show), in which all of the 30 plays that were to be performed in under an hour were either adapted or inspired by famous plays, movies, or personalities. As in every other New York Neo-Futurists show I've attended, I laughed for that entire hour.
In order to understand how this show is different from the normal T.M.L.M.T.B.G.B. I just want to take a second to explain what a "normal" show looks like. Each weekend the Neos attempt to perform 30 plays, all written by them, in an hour. The audience is always involved, whether they are called upon in one of the short plays, or simply because the performers cannot go onto the next play until the word "curtain" is called and an audience member shouts out the name of the play they want to see next. Also, at the end of each weekend a number of the shows (which is arrived upon by rolling a die) are taken out and new shows written, so "if you've seen the show once, you've seen the show once."
Needless to say, as I sat there with a nametag that dubbed me "Quandary," I was excited to see the menu of offerings for the evening and immediately realized that I certainly needed to see #24: "The Complete and Condensed Stage Directions of Eugene O'Neill: Long Day's Journey Into Night Act Two, Scene One." Of course, every single one of the titles looked intriguing, from "Squirrel demonstrates Contemporary Dance" to "Test of biblical longevity as applied to modern human cultural sensitivity number 1 or I'm sorry we burned those Qurans at a U.S. military base in Afghanistan and now there are riots and I know this doesn't even partially make up for it but I am going to try and break all the Ten Commandments in 60 seconds." Add in a short break for ordering pizza, because they sold out the show, and the night was officially complete.
I would just like to take this opportunity to say that I am so grateful for shows like this. The opportunity to watch six talented performers who not only present you with 30 intelligent instances of parody and satire, but also provide an opportunity for audience members to physically engage with the material is almost too good to be true. Indeed, the Neos put their own physical bodies on the line for the audience, as they deal with water, pickles, and rubber chickens, as well as the breakneck speed with which they are proceeding through the plays.
The mix of material ensures that whether or not you get all 15 or so of the clever allusions included in a three-minute piece or none of them at all, you will still laugh your head off. The excellent writing paired with the no holds barred physicality means the performances are guaranteed to please. Each individual play stands alone as a piece, just as each play in the regular edition of T.M.L.M.T.B.G.B. does, but here there is the possibility of an additional layer of enjoyment at the recognition of the allusions within the piece.
The F.U. Show is an example of all the reasons there are to love and support artists like the New York Neo-Futurists. If you didn't make it out this weekend, then you should go to the Kraine Theater on any (or every) weekend to see an affordable show that will make your day and maybe even your week. You might even get a nametag that reads "Slamdance" and get to be part of the show. The Neo-Futurists thanked Slamdance, but I want to thank them for a fantastic night in the theatre, yet again.