What'd I experience?
I arrive at the box office early and am given a plastic toy astronaut to save a space for me in the theatre until the box office officially opens. "Can I keep him?" I can't help but blurt out, thrilled at the idea. The man smiles kindly at me, informing me that I'll have to return the little dude later.
Twenty minutes later, I return to the Kraine Theater to exchange my space explorer for a ticket. They give everybody an option: either pay $19 for a ticket or roll a die to pay $13 in addition to whatever number you happen to land on. Math has never been my strong suit, but even I am able to recognize a good deal when I see one. And sure enough, I land a 2 and end up paying $15!
At the theatre's entrance sits a woman wearing sunglasses that have been taped over so as to block her vision. Staring blindly in my general direction, the smiling lady asks for my name. I tell her, and she writes the words PILLOW TALK on a name tag before handing it to me and wishing me a good show. She repeats this process with every audience member, resulting in an audience full of people donning hilarious name tags.
On the stage there is a clothes line with 30 pieces of paper labeled chronologically. I stare at them hungrily, hoping to work out how they'll be incorporated into the show. But before I can do much more than stare, the cast introduces the show as an ongoing, ever changing attempt to perform 30 plays in 60 minutes, shortly after directing us to our menus. Yes, at Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, the programs are called menus.
Printed vertically down my "menu" are all 30 play titles. My eyes are immediately drawn to number 18, "THE SECRET LIVES OF SKINNY BITCHES REVEALED!" and number 7, "If Reports On Global Warming Were A Trashy S&M Romance Novel Maybe More People Would Actually Read Them."
I can't shake the feeling that most of my fellow audience members are drunk, and I hope that this is the type of show I'll enjoy sober. When the cast asks for those of us who have seen the show before to raise their hands, over half of the audience goes crazy, and the cast dubs those of us who did not raise our hands and cheer "virgins," making me feel like I'm at the Rocky Horror Picture Show. We are told that the plays are not to be performed in order, and will instead be "ordered by number," New York City deli style. An actual timer is set for 60 minutes, and...
The venue is a cacophony of drunken, overlapping play orders, overwhelming me to the point where I cannot even croak out a play request of my own. It's loud and I feel on edge, like I'm being forced to participate in a debate I haven't prepared for.
My ears start to throb and right when I can't take anymore, play number 8 is selected without my aid, a play called "death w. tea & biscuits." One of the actresses snatches up number 8 from the clothes line before announcing the play title, crumpling the piece of paper, and throwing it at the audience and right into my hands!
The cast arranges a table and chairs and stiffly takes their seats, before each picking up a cup of tea and a small plate of biscuits. One by one they chime in on mortality, pausing to sip tea dramatically, and I find myself agreeing with most of what is said, especially the bit about how in a world where we are all destined to die, we still want to be remembered. And two minutes into this depressing tea party, "curtain" is called, launching the chaotic screaming of play numbers a second time.
The plays are performed in record time and it seems like they'll finish in under an hour for sure.
But during one cleverly written play whose name escapes me, we waste precious time being passive as the timer ticks away. About a dozen postcards and pens are laid down on the floor of the stage. For the better part of a minute, we stare at the cast in confusion, before they instruct us that they will not move on to the next play until all of the postcards are addressed. More awkward silence...and then a stampede of audience members fighting to get on stage. I am one of these people, and heart nearly galloping out of my chest in response to all of the eyes on me, I scribble out my real name and address on the postcard before dashing back to my seat.
I still wonder if I'll receive it in the mail.
Play number 4 is a winner: DICTATOR. In this play, the democratic manner of play selection is overthrown, to the relief of my eardrums and my heart. Instead, a dictator is chosen from the audience. For the duration of the show, she sits on the stage equipped with a cape and a megaphone and personally determines the order of the remaining plays in a calm but authoritative voice.
Seemingly out of nowhere, the timer startles me, ringing out throughout the theatre and signaling the end of the show. We all groan in sympathy with the cast: there had only been one more play to go! As I gather my stuff, I resolve to go see the show another time, fully aware that even if I do see all 30 plays on the menu within the hour, anywhere from 1-6 of those plays (depending on the roll of a giant die) per week will have been tossed out and rewritten to guarantee constant originality, so it wouldn't be the same 30 plays; It'd be a completely different show. And I love that.