By Carrie Barrett
Directed by Megan A. Smith
Performed by Karie Miller
Produced by Sideshow Theatre Company
At Chicago Dramatists
Wacky one woman show fizzles as it shifts tone from wacky to tragic
I generally admire one person shows since the effort usually carries the material. But when a show is so over produced and the tone of a show moves from a mildly funny ripe on Apocalypse preparation nutcases to a psychologically demented woman explaining the death of her infant child, the 75 minute show becomes a head-scratcher. We meet a woman with raccoon-like eyes who is in a sealed shelter filled with survival items. This woman rambles on and on about “The End is Coming!” and how we need to be prepared. While the hard working Karie Miller tries to engage us with audience involvement that includes throwing a large beach ball back and forth with the audience, we never get fully engaged since Miller comes off as a wound-too-tight nut job. Add the fact that shelves full of survival items continues to crash to the ground that Miller seems to ignore and we wonder if we are in a surreal dream scape?
After Woman lectures us on the dangers of scented shampoos and the joys of rice, we begin to realize that this woman is demented. When she starts telling us about the death of her infant child from some strange malady, the show’s tone changes from wacky comedy to sympathy for her loss. it is then that we realize that Woman is crazy and that we have been put on by all this nonsense. Burden is over-produced with the extreme survual bunker set (by Eleanor Kahn) and the strange bunker crashes? Playwright Carrie Barrett tries early on for comedy then move the play into a surreal diatribe on death of a child. I can’t not understands the concept of this work? It comes off as a sketch comedy piece that morphs into a tale of grief and insanity. We leave the theatre upset since we feel manipulated since their wasn’t enough laughs to justify the downer ending. The morbidity simply didn’t work making this world premiere fall flat among the crashing stuff. Karie Miller works hard to please but she tries too hard. Whatever The Burden of Not Having A Tail is trying to do or be is still a mystery and that is not a good thing for a comedy.
Talk theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: July 6, 2013
For more info checkout The Burden of Not Having A Tail page at theatreinchicago.com
At Chicago Dramatist, 1105 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL, tickets $20, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 75 minutes without intermission, through August 4, 2013