Devolution | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Devolution

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DEVOLUTION, Neo-Futurists. For more than 11 years now Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind has pulled audiences in. But though many Too Much Light ensemble members have gone on to create their own pieces, very few have drawn on the show's potentially radical aesthetic principles. David Kodeski may use Neo-Futurist elements in his work--the understated, "honest" performing style; the Brechtian intent to constantly remind audiences that this is a live performance. But until Neo-Futurist Sean Benjamin came along, no one had attempted to create an original, fully Neo-Futurist play.

In many ways Devolution seems a longer, mutant version of Too Much Light, though Benjamin never changes the setting: the 40 sketches in this show all take place in an insane asylum. And the four performers--Benjamin himself, Phil Ridarelli, Steve Mosqueda, and Noelle Krimm--play the same characters throughout. But in other, more important respects the show is very Neo-Futurist--hip, energetic, spontaneous, intelligent, and entertaining. Benjamin has even found a way to randomize the play, shuffling the order of his 40 scenes moments before the show begins.

Devolution suffers from the weaknesses of Too Much Light as well. It has no arc: it's just one scene after another. Once the audience figured that out, about two-thirds of the way through, you could feel people growing a little restless. In fact, the night I saw the show, the play ended with something of a whimper.

--Jack Helbig

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