Kristie Koehler-Vuocolo is one of five members of the Chicago-based Neo-Futurists who will make themselves at home around Red Bank as they bring their show, Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, to Two River Theater this month.
By TOM CHESEK
Maybe you’ve seen the ads for Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, the new summer-season production that kicks off a four-week run at Two River Theater this Thursday; and maybe you’ve wondered just what this show is, you know, about?
Well, it’s about an hour. Pretty much exactly sixty minutes solid from the top of the clock. And within that hour, so it’s been promised, a paying customer can expect to see some thirty separate plays, some lasting for a matter of seconds, together comprising a body of work that runs the gamut of the theatrical experience you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you know the drill. Beyond that, you’ll have to ask a Neo-Futurist.
To anticipate your next question, a Neo-Futurist is a member of a performance troupe that was formed some 20 years ago by Greg Allen in Chicago home to Second City, Steppenwolf, David Mamet and other titanic touchstones of the stage arts. It’s a company that’s counted among its alumni the creator of Urinetown, Greg Kotis, as well as the technically-not-a-member Stephen Colbert. And, for a generation now, it’s been the proud purveyor of Too Much Light, an institution that’s been as much a part of modern Chicago life as night-game home losses by the Cubs.
Unlike other ridiculously long-running stage offerings like The Fantasticks and The Mousetrap, the “signature” work of the Neo-Futurists is an ever-morphing entity that bears little resemblance to itself from night to night, let alone compared to its younger self. But it’s not an “improv” show it’s entirely scripted and rehearsed. And it’s not necessarily a comedy, as you’ll discover soon enough. It’s also not a tuneful revue, although the company includes such musically minded types as Screeching Weasel founder John Pierson. And, if you’ve read about Too Much Light… playing an ongoing engagement in Manhattan, well, it ain’t that, either that’s an independent production created and performed by the satellite troupe the New York Neo-Futurists, whereas the version that Red Bank audiences will take in is an authentic reconnaissance pod off the old Mothership.
Fortunately, the oRBit desk at redbankgreen was able to track down an actual Neo five-year veteran Kristie Koehler-Vuocolo as she and her fellow Futurists Jessica Anne, Jonathan Mastro, John Pierson and Jay Torrence prepare to set down roots on the crimson banks of the Navesink for a stand that continues Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through July 27. Here’s how that played out.