Hotel Volkswagen

Mildred’s Umbrella Theatre Company unveils a Texas premiere this month with a staged reading of Jón Gnarr’s Hotel Volkswagen. The quirky story of a father and son who, after encountering car trouble, check into the hotel and spend some time with its unusual guests, the comedy features many characters who aren’t as they seem. And they seem to do a poor job of hiding their real identities from the audience. “One example is a character of a 12-year-old boy who is played by a grown woman — the other characters just accept it,” said Jennifer Decker, artistic director and co-founder of Mildred’s Umbrella. “There is also an ex-Nazi who is pretending to be an American guy from Ohio, and a couple who tried to adopt a baby but accidentally adopted a 40-year-old alcoholic woman who ran them out of their house.”

Gnarr has had a successful career as a writer and comedian in his native Iceland and was even the mayor of its capital city from 2010 to 2014 after founding a satirical yet honest political party called “The Best Party.” This spring, he will hold the first Writer-in-Residence position at Rice University’s Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences.

“I think comedy is the next step of everything. It is an opener and a healer. Take the recent terrorist acts in France, for example: satire against ignorance, woman-fear, fundamentalism and general hate,” said Gnarr. “Wittgenstein said he could write a serious work of philosophy only with jokes. I want to prove that it’s possible.”

3 p.m. January 25 and 7 p.m. January 26. Studio 101, 1824 Spring Street. For information, call 832-463-0409 or visit mildredsumbrella.com. Pay as you can.
Sun., Jan. 25, 3 p.m.; Mon., Jan. 26, 7 p.m., 2015

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Alexandra Doyle