The Bearer and Haunt, O Theater, at Chicago Dramatists. When Timothy McCain’s one-act The Bearer begins with a woman ranting bitterly at a cabdriver about marriage, we wonder where actress Kathleen Powers can go from there. Fortunately McCain’s tightly written script, combining elements of Hellcab and HBO’s Taxicab Confessions, is a dramatic showcase for contemporary angst: Powers’s character is trying on personalities. She can be a coquette, snob, practical joker, fighter, or a person whose mantra is “cherish the madness.” Greg McCain is the taxi driver trying to console her with “it can’t be all that bad.” As directed by the playwright, these two actors capture the surprise and anxiety of drastically different people veering between detachment and intense moments when they might make a connection.
McCain’s Haunt is a dramatic monologue by a woman who announces that she’s a murderer. Michelle Ann Mueller is expressive as a killer seeking her soul mate, but the script and McCain’s direction rob the audience of suspense and Mueller of intensity. Saddled with stylized gestures that hint at her crime, she’s too clearly a woman with the sort of problems we can distance ourselves from. And the script moves too slowly to a point that’s obvious early on.