Performing Arts: Theater
December 4, 2022
More a storyteller than a comic who bolts jokes one after the other, Mike Birbiglia exudes an easy intimacy with his audience of friends.

Birbiglia focuses on a list of ailments, from heart disease and diabetes, to nocturnal sleepwalking, that positively add up to a hypochondriacal looney. Intent on getting healthier, Birbiglia recounts knotty conversations with a doctor who recommends a healthier lifestyle.

When the doctor suggests working out, Birbiglia demures, so she suggests swimming 5 days a week to which he replies, "no one swims 5 days a week," and she responds, "yes they do" and he retorts "Phelps doesn't swim 5 days a week" while she demures "yes, he does." Inane as that sounds, the everyday banter strikes home.

Alone on the stage in front of a projection of aqua water in a swimming pool (you really don't want to know the stats about the ratio of urine to chlorinated water) dsigned by Beowulf Boritt, The Old Man & The Pool is effortlessly directed by Seth Barrish.

Interestingly, throughout the show, I kept thinking about his wife, the woman he describes as introverted to his extroverted self. Fortunately, Birbiglia's gentle and all encompassing humor is infectious--otherwise he might be a bit challenging on a day-to-day basis.

Despite all the talk about mortality and disintegrating elder bodies, this show's genuineness reaches all age groups (my twenty-something nephew laughed throughout the show). Birbiglia's everyman tickles all hearts.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Celia Ipiotis

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