SXSW Comedy: Audible Presents the Night Realm Tavern of Heads Will Roll
Get a sneak peek at Audible original at this Rainey Street activation
By Rosalind Faires,
12:15PM, Sat. Mar. 9, 2019
Two roads diverge at every renaissance festival. You can go the deadly serious route – clank around in chainmail, never break character, and ponder the hardship and chances for glory in the Middles Ages. Or there’s the devil-may-care option, where you thrill at the cheerful anachronism of a bar wench slinging margaritas in novelty plastic glasses.
Or you might see the knight checking his cell phone right before a jousting match. Those with a more somber mindset may jostle in line to suffer the trials and tribulations of Westeros’ most famous denizens, but those in a more Puckish vein can find the turkey legs of their hearts’ desires at the Night Realm Tavern.
Located at the southern end of Rainey Street, Javelina has been transfigured into a space celebrating Audible and Broadway Video’s original Heads Will Roll. This upcoming audio comedy is the brainchild of sisters Emily Lynne and Kate McKinnon (of Saturday Night Live and Ghostbusters gun-licking fame) and follows evil queen Mortuana (McKinnon) and her raven sidekick (Lynne) as they attempt to quash a peasant rebellion. The supporting cast is comically star-studded, as evidenced by the portrait hall on your right when you enter the Tavern itself, where faux oil paintings of luminaries like Tim Gunn, Audra McDonald, Peter Dinklage, and Queer Eye’s Fab Five hang.
Given the medium of Heads Will Roll, audio components are to be expected – stepping close to the portraits triggers audio clips of the respective characters. On either end of the bar are two large golden conches on wooden stands; pick up one of these “shellphones” and essentially get a wiretap on Queen Mortuana’s conversations. At the back of the building, there’s a combination listening/photo opportunity: Guests can put on headphones in front of a wall of spray-painted metallic gold skulls. (This is definitely the listening experience with the nicest audio quality.)
The rest of the experience seems like the kind of wry and charming flavor text you get in a particularly fun game of Dungeons and Dragons. The staff circulates in a uniform of black T-shirts and jeans topped with white accordian ruffs and black leather harnesses, a handful of Javelina’s signature cocktails and menu items have been renamed in honor of the series (a chopped salad becomes guillotined!), and you may be corralled to put your head in the stocks for crimes like “Doing Everything Right.” The event’s hashtag may be #NotEasyBeingQueen, but it’s all too easy to enjoy the Night Realm Tavern.