As you walk into the theater, the actors start brewing coffee and sit down on a set with just two chairs and nothing else. It’s just you, the dark room and the two actors with the smell of freshly brewed coffee wavering around you. For the next hour and a half, Chris’ story is all you know.
Why do we lie even when it hurts everyone around us? The Lies We Tell explores that question through the hard topic of addiction. We soon realize that if we are an addict, we may have to lie.
Erasing the Distance is hosting SparkFEST, a festival dedicated to educating the public on mental illness. A part of their show line-up is The Lies We Tell, a moving story about a former addict who sits down to tell the interviewer and the audience his story of addiction and recovery.
SparkFEST showcases these shows in a documentary style. Everything is real—real stories, real people, and nothing is changed. The people portrayed in the plays are actual people sitting down in an interview to tell their story. The script is just a transcription of that conversation shortened into a play that is portrayed by professional actors.
It’s intimate. We sit front and center with the actors. Chris (played by Josh Odor) is pacing back and forth. He tells his story of how his addiction started in high school after trying alcohol. This element is important for us to understand as the script emphasizes that addiction is in genetics. To many “normal” people, one beer has no effect but to Chris… it changed his life.
Chris as a character is very complex. He tells us of all the lies he has told to his friends, family, and girlfriends. He confesses that he’s stolen, hurt, and abused many people throughout his life. How could anyone, particularly his fiancée, or the audience, be able to forgive him?
But we do.
Despite all of these flaws, we learn that Chris actually had no control over what he did most of his life. His life was dictated by his illness. He didn’t want to lie, but he began to accept that he had to lie to survive. Now we understand. Now we empathize. We walked in inclined to see him a villain. We walk out of theater ready to empathize.
After the play, a hosted talk back continued this intimate experience. One audience member shared how much she appreciated her story being told. She too also has suffered from bipolar disorder, just as Chris did in this story. Her story didn’t leave one person dry-eyed in the room. It wasn’t fictional. This was a story of anyone who has ever been touched by mental illness or addiction.
If you are seeking a light night of entertainment The Lies We Tell is not a good pick; this is a theatrical production that deals with weighty topics.
The Lies We Tell is especially recommended for those who have been touched by mental illness and addiction to find comfort in not being alone. The post-show talk back provides a way to meet others and tell your experiences. Equally, this play is recommended for those who have never experienced addiction in any way. You may find yourself feeling empathy that you never knew you could muster before.
Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read – Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.
September 7-24, 2017
4041 N Milwaukee Ave,
Chicago, IL 60641