BWW Review: A WOLVERINE WALKS INTO A BAR is a Fascinating and Funny Collection of Bar Stories
Greater Tuna co-creator and master storyteller Jaston Williams and TV's Lauren Lane are currently Stateside at the Paramount performing in the Austin debut of A WOLVERINE WALKS INTO A BAR. This new play by Williams brings to life a throng of fascinating, outlandish and delightful new characters that includes an aging hippie, an elderly world traveling Grande Dame with a history of sinking gondolas; an Anglo man who yearns to be Hispanic, married to a Hispanic woman who yearns to be Anglo; the most messed up wedding planner you'll ever meet; and a duo celebrating memories who end up dancing the cotton-eyed Joe. The Stateside at the Paramount stage has been transformed into a bar-like atmosphere allowing a few audience members to be seated around small tables on the stage. The evening of character studies is a collection of hilarious bar stories; five monologues and a closing scene starring both performers, all told through the eyes of several guest directors. Directors include Kevin Bailey, Linda Donahue and Kristin Rogers.
Like the Greater Tuna cycle plays, of which Williams is a co-creator, the actors mime many of the props and even some physical set pieces. Williams has an ear for compelling, believable dialogue. In this new work, he has created a collection of characters with both hilarious and touching tales to tell that are totally captivating. While it doesn't have a traditional thorough plot, it works as a series of memorable encounters in a bar. Don't look for a lot of deep meaning here because this is just an amazing evening of people watching at its best. The show will make you laugh and touch you in surprising ways. The six individual scenes are: "Armed and Liberal", "Safety First", "A Smoking Nurse", "A Wolverine Walks Into a Bar", "Burning Music" and "Open Toed Shoes".
The evening is a tour de force for both Williams and Lane. Both performers create multiple fully formed characters throughout the evening culminating into the shared final scene that is not only hilarious, but sweetly touching... as well as a great commentary on non-blood related families formed in the shared community of a bar. While it is hard to pick favorite characters, I especially enjoyed the Wedding Planner, the Tequila drinking Anglo, the Aging Hippie, the Grande Dame and the characters in the finale "Open Toed Shoes".
The piece is well directed by Kevin Bailey, Linda Donahue and Kristin Rogers keeping the monologues from ever feeling rooted or static. Luke Moyers lighting design supports the writing perfectly, as does Ken Huncovsky's sound design.
A WOLVERINE WALKS INTO A BAR is a wonderful evening spent with colorful memorable characters. A stellar collection of bar stories with no hangover in the morning. If you enjoyed the characters of the Greater Tuna cycle plays, you should fall in love with these Texas characters from other parts of the Lone Star state.
A WOLVERINE WALKS INTO A BAR by Jaston Williams
Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission
Advisory: Contains Adult Situations
November 11-13 and November 18-20; Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 2 pm & 8 pm and Sundays at 2 pm.
Tickets $37.50 for premium seating, $25 other seats, plus approximately $10 per ticket fees and venue charges.
Tickets on sale now at AustinTheatre.org, or by calling 512.474.1221 or in person at the Paramount Theatre Box Office.