Shared from the 10/27/2016 Colo Spgs Gazette eEdition

THEATER REVIEW

FAC’s ‘Too Much Light ...’ is fabulous

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COURTESY PHOTOS

A scene from “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind” at the Fine Arts Center. Ensemble members pictured from left: Kelley Wick, Mark Cannon, Jareth Spirio, Mackenzie Beyer, Anna Faye Hunter, and Jordan Matthews.

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“Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind” ensemble members, from left, Kelley Wick, Jordan Matthews, and Mark Cannon.

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Put aside most traditional notions about an evening of theater when you settle in for “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind.”

“Do you have a nametag,” asks the gal at the entrance of the Fine Arts Center’s second-floor Music Room.

Despite sharing my name, my sticker reads “Polka.” It’s almost curtain on opening night, 8:30 p.m., which is a tad late for the FAC or most other local companies.

What unfolds next is engaging (without being intimidating), high energy (but not amateurish), intellectually intriguing (unless you don’t want it to be) and just plain delightful. Chosen from a roster of 100 micro plays, the 30 here are urgently unfurled by a six-person company in a scant 60 minutes. Which is two minutes per work, more or less.

Because the surprise is half the fun, I won’t dig too deeply into how this is accomplished. I will say that the comic plays are unconnected, realized with no special scenery or costumes and often quite elliptical, which is funny, rather than alienating. The audience is often involved — either by invitation or by proximity to the action.

It comes across as part “Saturday Night Live,” part high school play, part black box think piece. But don’t make the mistake in thinking that any of it is haphazard. Director Scott RC Levy and his skilled cast have built every beat, gesture and tone while still fostering the feeling of off-the-cuff immediacy. The cast, which improvises at times, is uniformly terrific.

Take it as just a comic extravaganza and you’ll leave happy. But supporting the funny is also a sly deconstruction of theater, language and at times, human relationships. Even better, it asks the audience to complete the circuit of meaning between the funny and the smart.

For instance, in “Tableau for Three (Right This Way, Sir,)” MacKenzie Beyer guides the audience through the chapters of life. You, in turn, connect the dots between her opaque narration and the attitude of the main characters, which are three chairs.

The entertaining intricacy, spontaneity and inclusiveness of Greg Allen’s play, contributions to which other writers have made since its 1988 debut, has made it the longest running in Chicago and the only open-run Off-Off Broadway show in New York City. (For full disclosure, I was friends with Allen in college.)

There wasn’t much I didn’t like in this production. The arrangement of the padded folding chairs was odd, making the main aisle travel from narrow to wide, which obscured the aisle view for some of the house. The late start time wasn’t my cup of tea either, although, happily, the audience was populated with more of the 30 and younger age group than most FAC productions. And like its mainstage theater, the acoustics were sometimes a problem.

“Well, that was an unusual experience,” said one woman as she left the theater.

In this case, I call that fabulous.

“TOO MUCH LIGHT MAKES THE BABY GO BLIND”

When: 8:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays (except Oct. 29), through Nov. 19

Where: Fine Arts Center, 30 W. Dale St.

Tickets: $20, $15 members; 719-634-5581, csfineartscenter.org

See this article in the e-Edition Here