OFFBEAT: New one-woman show in Chicago tackles surviving apocalypse

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-07-05T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: New one-woman show in Chicago tackles surviving apocalypseBy Philip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

The end of civilization and society's crumble on judgement day isn't a funny subject.

Based on the number of popular recent television programs and movies about the topic, ranging from zombie attacks and nuclear disaster to Brad Pitt's recent film "World War Z," it's a subject on the mind of many.

So adding a dose of humor to this scenario seems to be the spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down.

Sideshow Theatre Company in Chicago is concluding its 2012-13 season with the world premiere of this same sweet and tart subject, showcasing the new work "The Burden of Not Having a Tail."

Written by Carrie Barrett and directed by ensemble member Megan A. Smith, it's now playing until Aug. 4 at Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago Ave., in Chicago.

This darkly comical, one-woman 75-minute stage production features ensemble member Karie Miller in an interactive experience with the audience.

Guests are treated to the intimate abode of an "end of the world bunker," with the manic Miller as the host, providing a tour and workshop about recreating her cozy, fully-equipped and completely secure underground refuge from the hostile and likely desperate and diseased outside world.

Subjects discussed include everything from rice appreciation to the importance of salt to the dangers of scented shampoos.

There are a few worst-case scenarios tossed out to the audience, just to keep everyone on his or her toes, and lots of latex gloves are used (but not really used).

Miller provides a fine and even slightly scary, leering, poppy-eyed grin as she guides the audience through the importance of having plenty of jigsaw puzzles around for distraction and why keeping a land-based telephone line is still vital.

As for the play title, it's referred to in the course of the play, and explained as a nod to evolution. There are some moments in this production that feel over-wrought, with some editing in order to tighten thoughts and subject segues. One unsuspecting audience member was made to watch most of the performance from an armchair on stage, which doesn't add much to the overall effect, other than some distraction.

The production team for "The Burden of Not Having a Tail" includes Eleanor Kahn with a very clever set design of stocked shelves, assorted stock-piled supplies and even corn sprouting from under a growing light.

Jordan Kardasz's lighting design and the duo of Christopher M. LaPorte and Michael Huey's sound designers help set the mood, along with Arianna Soloway's oddly fascinating props.

Tickets are $15 to $20 with student, senior and industry tickets available for select Thursday and Sunday performances. FYI:

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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