Shaken, not stirred: a brilliant and poignant piece of theatre
A Man Walks into A Bar is a brilliant and poignant piece of theatre that mixes one part: social commentary, with two parts: the nature of a woman working in the service industry. In particular, why should a single woman have to say she has a boyfriend to fend off a potential suitor she’s not interested in? Why isn’t it sufficient for her to just say she’s not interested?
Yes, they have that conversation.
The “they” of the piece being the server (performed by Rachel Blair, who also created the piece), and the customer/guest (performed by Blue Bigwood-Mallin).
The set-up is that the server is going to tell a joke, that begins with the line…a man walks into a bar. But she’s interrupted by the customer/guest, who wants to know what type of man it is? And so the performers break character, to become performers discussing the nature of what they’re doing as characters. Before getting back into character to perform more.
As such, the play (as well as the performers and the performance) circles around itself, adding layers and depth with each turn. Sometimes the turn if of a phrase, and sometime the turn is of a (proverbial) knife as the performers/characters search for companionship. Or escape.
It all works towards the conclusion, otherwise known as the punch line. And whether or not you think the joke is funny, and what is “funny,” are very much at the centre of this finely crafted, and excellently performed piece.
A Man Walks into A Bar is playing as part of the Undercurrents festival in Ottawa (February 10-20, 2016)
Brendan McNally is a regular contributor to OttawaTonite.com.