News on your favorite shows, specials & more!

BWW Reviews: STARS AND BARMEN - A Heavenly New Comedy

By: Nov. 16, 2013
Enter Your Email to Unlock This Article

Plus, get the best of BroadwayWorld delivered to your inbox, and unlimited access to our editorial content across the globe.

Existing user? Just click login.

I've heard a lot of great things about Reina Hardy, the playwright of Stars and Barmen. I've heard people throughout Austin refer to the UT Austin MFA candidate as a quirky comedic genius whose work is witty, smart, and intriguing. I hadn't seen any of Hardy's work for myself until I recently saw Stars and Barmen, a world premiere romantic comedy which closes at Votex Rep this evening. I'm proud to report that all I've heard is true. Hardy's new play is hysterical, sweet, and wonderfully original.

Rupert (Trey Deason) is a nerdy astrophysics grad student who is desperate, and woefully incompetent, in his quest to find himself a date to his sister's upcoming wedding. He crashes a party and meets Claire (Bridget Farr) a beautiful and mysterious young poet. But of course, Rupert makes romantic comedy mistake #1. He's forced to dash out of the party and fails to get the woman's name and number first (Really guys, 30 seconds for a name and number is totally worth it). So Rupert resorts to posting all over craigslist in hopes that his dream woman may be trolling the site and find him. Instead, he's found by Elaine (Breanna Stogner), a fellow loner who has somehow duped a publisher into thinking she's an astrophysicist interested in writing a memoir (because astrophysics makes for such interesting memoir fodder). Elaine begs, pleads, and annoys Rupert into helping teach her enough about astrophysics, all the while trying to convince him that trying to find Claire may be impossible.

Deason excels at playing up the social ineptness of his character. Rupert is the kind of guy who tries, and fails, to attract women through some painfully bad yet incredibly funny pick-up lines (a moment brilliantly staged by director Rudy Ramirez) and whose only friend is a computer program named MANDY which is capable of emulating human dialogue and debate. Sure, this is a Yoda t-shirt wearing geek who gets plenty of laughs, but Deason takes a delicate approach to the character. Instead of asking for the laugh, Deason seems more concerned with getting the audience to relate to Rupert's loneliness and social faux pas.

The same can be said for Stogner as Elaine. Elaine is awkward, pitiful, occasionally annoying, but incredibly likeable, and Stogner uses the role to showcase her impeccable comedic timing. Farr is also quite strong as Claire, though the role is easily the most underdeveloped and unclear of the three. As she appears in bathroom mirrors and in other various places, we start to question if Claire is real at all. Of course, the idea that Rupert is in love with the idea of perfection versus an actual person is a fun one, but it would be nice if that intent on Hardy's part was clearer.

But that's the only weak point in Hardy's otherwise strong script. Her text is full of heart, humor, and charm, and it touches on how universal loneliness can be. When paired with three immensely talented performers and a brilliant young director, Stars and Barmen is as spectacular as comedies get.

Running time: Approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes, no intermission.

STARS AND BARMEN plays Vortex Rep at 2307 Manor Road, Austin, 78722. The final performance of STARS AND BARMEN is tonight, Saturday November 16th at 8pm. Tickets are $10-$30. For tickets and information, visit

Photo: Breanna Stogner and Trey Deason in STARS AND BARMEN. Photo by Kimberley Mead.


To post a comment, you must register and login.