Dallas — Jill Vice gets to the bottom of the glass and the top of her performance skills in Tipped & Tipsy, her one-woman show onstage at the second Annual Dallas Solo Fest at the Margo Jones Theatre in Fair Park.
In a strappy leotard and tights, her dark hair pulled back in a ponytail, the Plano native (and San Francisco resident) reaches out, pulls an invisible draft beer at an invisible bar, and makes me thirsty. Standing close to the audience in the empty performance space, she’s got everybody laughing within five minutes of launch as she presents her 45-minute take on the “miracle of alcohol” from the perspective of a female bartender hosting a family of regulars at a neighborhood watering hole called Happy’s Bar.
Some of the funniest bits are ironic. “It’s illegal to be visibly intoxicated in a bar,” she reminds us, and hence the barkeep decides who can keep drinking and who has to get off the stool and stagger elsewhere. She has great fun with the you-may-be-drunk-if equation; i.e., “you feel compelled to stand on furniture” or “you feel more attractive than you actually are.” The biggest crime of the drinker, however, is to fail to tip the bartender. “If you cannot afford to tip, drink at home,” a rakish, elderly Brit regular advises a newcomer.
With a deepening of her voice or a slight eye tremor, a throaty Bronx vocalization here, a British accent there, a bold, body swagger for the Italian bar owner, Vice steps into the role of all the characters in her short, exciting play. Amazingly, we easily follow all the voices when they get into a heated argument about whether to pull the bourbon plug on a longtime patron who’s clearly not just bleary, but an alcoholic subject to seizures. The narrative line of the story follows the outcome, but along the way, we have identified four distinct folks and the beleaguered bartender, all convincingly inhabited by Vice. You go, girl.
Music is sometimes a marvelous accessory. “Dancing in the Dark” floats through the air as Vice assumes the voice of the elderly Englishman recalling his mother’s fondness for cucumber sandwiches and cards.
As the story builds, the actress is suddenly bathed in red lights as we watch all the people she represents mix it up in a fascinating and physical mash-up of action and identity. Who’s doing what to whom. That’s the beauty of live performance. You just gotta be there to know what it’s like.
You don’t need to be tipsy, however, to appreciate Jill Vice. And for God’s sake, tip the lady.
» Jill Vice's Tipped & Tipsy has one more performance:
- Sunday, June 7 @ 7 p.m.
» Read our Q&A with Jill Vice here
And you can follow our coverage of the 2015 Dallas Solo Fest in our special section, here.