Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Stars and Barmen by Reina Hardy, Vortex Repertory, October 26 - November 16, 2013

ALT review
Stars and Barmen Reina Hardy Vortex Repertory Austin TX

by Michael Meigs

I was in the mood for a a feel-good experience on Halloween, something without fangs or fishnets or pumpkins, and the Vortex's blurb 'a romantic comedy about getting lucky in space time' enticed me to their staging of Reina Hardy's script. She is semi-local, after all, as a Michener Fellow at the University of Texas, and the Shrewds staged her piece Glassheart not too long ago.

The Vortex, bless Bonnie's heart, has succeeded in transforming itself from a make-do neighborhood theatre to a social center. The Butterfly Bar appears to keep the place hopping most nights of the week, and there were plenty of folks there for the BYOP pumpkin-carving contest later on. Only twelve of us elected to go to the play that Thursday evening.

Stars and Barmen Reina Hardy Vortex Rep Austin TX
Trey Deason (photo: Kimberley Mead)
In the enigmatically titled Stars and Barmen Trey Deason plays Rupert, a grad student in astronomy so hapless and clumsy that his only intimate companion is the computer program scanning the skies for anomalies -- not the big, blow-out anomalies, but others more modest, perhaps closer to his level of ability. The playwright's not particularly kind to him, setting him up in the opening scene as a lonely party crasher who fails miserably three times in a row to initiate conversations with unseen women. Deason, himself a capable playwright, singer and thespian, swallows the bait and director Rudy Ramirez's instruction, and he turns Rupert into such a mass of inferiority complexes and tics that he's ridiculous and almost painful to watch.

Rupert encounters Bridget Farr as the dreamily disappointed Claire, a self-pronounced poet who's trying to avoid someone at the party. He thinks he's getting through to her in his ungainly way, but that computer program Mandy interrupts via telephone, yanking his chain and obliging him to leave to attend to his late night duties in the lab. He forgets to ask for Claire's number or to get some way to contact her again.

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