Sideshow’s “The Burden Of Not Having a Tail” A Busy Production
Reviewed By: Joseph Hillenmeyer
Carrie Barrett’s “The Burden of Not Having A Tail,” produced by Sideshow Theatre company is tutorial about preparing for the end of the world and also a study of how some people, unfortunately, deal with loss.
Burden stars Karie Miller as the lone credited actor in the show, however, the entire audience is actually a non-voluntary cast member. The woman (Miller) is giving a tutorial on pandemic preparedness. If you aren’t familiar with that term, it refers to wackos who stockpile rice, water and even shampoo in underground bunkers waiting for the apocalypse.
The woman on stage is one of these people and wants you to be one as well, after all, you came to the tutorial. At first, she seems overly excited about the idea of taking shelter beneath ground, even excited about preparing for it by snatching up two-for-ones at the supermarket and buying books on nursing and first aid.
However, as the show progresses we begin to see the cracks in the walls of the emotional bunker that the woman is hiding in. Although the women appears to suffer from some mild mysophobia and a mistrust of doctors, as she begins to dispense more details about the life that preceded her entering the bunker, we realize it is guilt, not fear that has brought her below ground.
If there is one thing that works perfectly from beginning to end, it’s Miller. Not only she is the lone performer in the production, but she must also rely on audience interaction and capture a character who is the midst of breakdown after losing her family, all while cracking jokes as she explains the rules of preparedness.
So, there is a lot going here, and while Miller is able to capture it, it may be more than the audience can handle. It can be hard to keep up with the woman’s roaming, ADD mindset and difficult to focus on what’s important. While it’s nice to empathize with the character, in this case it detracts from the production. Her mind bounces around like the beach ball that she throws in to the audience at one point and by the time the audience reaches the end of the tutorial, they know just a little bit more about the woman on the stage and little bit more about pandemic preparedness.
“The Burden Of Not Having A Tail,” runs through Aug. 4 at Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago Ave. Curtain time is 8 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and 3 p.m. on Sundays. Runtime is around 1 hour with no intermission. Tickets are $25 and available at www.sideshowtheatre.org. For calender infor mation, visit www.theatreinchicago.com.