Immerse Yourself in Music… in “The Lonely Few,” @ the Geffen

Directors Trip Cullman & Ellenore Scott perfectly capture the passion, talents, and even the angst that comes along with the dreams of aspiring rock stars Lila (Lauren Patton); Amy (Ciara Renee); JJ (Helen Shen), and company in “The Lonely Few,” now playing at the Geffen Playhouse.  This is an original play, based on the book by Rachel Bonds, with music and lyrics by Zoe Sarnak, and accompaniment by live musicians Myrna Conn; Ramon Blanco; Mike Hill; and Carl Thomson. Upon entering the theatre , one is instantly transported into an intimate nightclub/concert space, replete with bar, barstools; balcony, and comfy lounge seats.  A whole lot of people aspire to reach rock star status, as evidenced by the immense amount of singers and  their hopeful followers) on Tik Tok; yet Lila gets her big break when asked to join the band on a tour starting in rural Kentucky and culminating in Nashville.  Along with the chance to hear wonderful, original songs, such as “Always Wait For You,” “”I’ll Be Gone,” “Bottle of Jack,” and “Something to Smile About,” just to name a few, the audience is also privy to the intimate, innermost secrets, trials and tribulations of a family troubled by addiction, heartbreak, loss, sexuality and loyalty, all the while seeking fame and fortune in the fickle field of music.  From beginning to end, the musical selections, interspersed with captivating gems of dialogue, keep the audience enthralled and mesmerized by the potent plot line.  The show covers the musicians’ lives at a most precarious time, the present, throughout the South, with a series of concert comebacks.  One standout scene (among many) involves Lila’s brother Adam (Joshua Close), struggling with alcoholism, and when his neighbors find him blacked out , Lila is faced with the dilemma of staying or leaving  the tour to be by her brother’s side, in a time of crisis.  Lauren Patten and Joshua Close’s delivery of a brother/sister bond, amidst career highs and lows; substance abuse and mania; is brilliant, all taking place within a simple set, with plenty of booze bottles at one’s access.  Many a melancholy number brings a sense of ominous near tragedies and emergencies to befall this innocent, up and coming young starlet.  The group’s blaring loud music certainly ‘rocked the crowd,’ and tried even a little bit harder, with a mix of pop, rock, jazz, and blues.  Amy, Lila , and JJ all seem like small town girls, but even with their seemingly humble, simplistic attitudes and personas, we soon sense their inner brilliance, talent, and fire within.  Talents that only ‘a lonely few’ truly possess.  Rock on over to the Geffen to experience an artistic extravaganza, with songs and lyrics, sure to resonate.  

Through April 30th

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Breathe Deep & Carry On @ the Geffen… in “The First Deep Breath”

The First Deep Breath” opens with the preacher Albert Melvin Jones III (Tony Todd/Herb Newsome) painfully extolling the virtues of peace and mercy upon his congregation.  During this penitential prayer of forgiveness, he mentions his son in jail and his beloved deceased daughter Diana.  When he arrives home, we meet the bossy Aunt Pearl (Deanna Reed Thomas), prepping the family dinner, and insistent on one of the family members go out to purchase milk for the otherwise ‘dry’ mac and cheese.  Tyree (Keith Wallace) and Abdul-Malik (Lee Edward Colston II) are enjoying watching a game of football on the couch, only to be interrupted by dad’s big announcement of getting approval for a new building and youth center for the church and also the youngest son AJ (Opa Adeyemo)’s scholarship for Bible college.  Meanwhile, Mama (Ella Joyce) has Alzheimer’s, yet trying her best to keep her wits intact and her family unit together.  All is not what it seems in this ‘house of cards’ soon to fall down.  The set, designed by Michael Carnahan) is an intricate three level house, in Philadelphia, with an elaborate staircase, symbolic of all the ups and downs, triumphs and travails of one American family.  Some amazing dialogue is heard, kudos to playwright Lee Edward Colston II, especially on the plight of the matriarch’s Alzheimer’s.  Pastor Albert Melvin states, “When I look at her, it’s like I’m drowning.”  The irony is that Mama (Joyce), is often quite lost and confused, while at other times, sharp as a tack, and in one most poignant scene, during the family’s Thanksgiving dinner, she is the truth sayer, telling it exactly like it is, and pinpointing each family member’s character, and mourning the death of her beloved daughter Diana, by abruptly pulling off the tablecloth and all the bountiful food upon it, onto the floor, revealing the messy state of the family unit, as it unravels before her knowing eyes.  Candace Thomas so credibly portrays the surviving twin sister Dee-Dee, trying earnestly to heal her inner child, while understanding her family members. Yet, she is so insecure and unsure herself at times, she can’t help but lash out at others. 

This show, written by Colston, and directed by Steve H. Broadnax III, displays their tremendous genius and a knack for a brilliant ensemble narrative. A standout scene is when AJ rehearses his dance audition, to the beat of Albert Jr. playing bongo drums, in a poetic, ethereal music and dance sequence.  It is a play of humans coming together, at the holiday season, emotions still raw over the loss of their daughter and sister, with the golden urn of ashes present on the desk next to flowers and her picture.  As the plot thickens, and the family dinner finally takes place, the darker themes of hurt, shame, dysfunction, sibling rivalry, competition, unfaithfulness, all come to the forefront.  Colston, with his shrewd ability to commingle satire, poetry, and dark humor into one concise entity, can be likened to an August Wilson of modern time.  The characters, in particular, Albert Melvin Jr. and AJ, seem to unwittingly dance around their own guilt and shame, a prevalent theme throughout the story.  The play is filled with such sharp juxtapositions of darkness and light; holiday festivity and mourning; tragedy and comedy; and the cast members leap from one range of emotion to another, effortlessly.  All actors in the ensemble are so convincing in their roles and the dialogue, with rich gems of wisdom, such as “I gave you my legacy, my namesake, my strength … and you broke it and shattered it into a thousand pieces.”  “Hurt and shame have been in this family forever… until someone breathes it out.”  And,  “every peaceful breath, from the first deep breath to the last shallow breath…transported to places poetry speaks of.”  

The play’s ultimate message is of life’s fickle and fleeting nature, and how every diverse person needs to be seen, and every unique voice needs to be heard, loud and clear.

Through March 5th

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“Wish they all could be Southern Girls…” in “Southern Girls” @ the Hudson

“Southern Girls” at the wonderful Hudson Theatre, is a play that is sure to affect anyone who experienced (or learned about) the horrible injustices and racism perpetrated by white Southerners (and Northerners too), against African Americans in the Jim Crow era, especially in Birmingham, Alabama.  If you want to be fired up, tossed, and tumbled in a spiritual hallelujah ride to heaven and back, you must see “Southern Girls” at the triplex of theatres, known as the Hudson in theatre row of Hollywood.  This play, brilliantly conceived by Sheri  Bailey and Dura  Temple, and incredibly directed by a forty year veteran director, Zadia Ife, is the story of six little girls, three black and three white, growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, in the 1950’s, amidst the turmoil of racism, the advent of JFK, the Cold War, and the political maelstrom of the 1960’s.  The girls are playing with their dollies, ‘Tag, You’re it,’ and jacks, and amidst the innocent playground banter, we have adult incantations, like, “since you’re black, you can’t do this, that, or the other,” and to the horror of the black girls, “if you don’t like my white dolly, there will be hell to pay.”  Amidst little girls playing with their dolls in the foreground, we hear the racist rants of hatred of society in the background.  These rants are all casually uttered as if they were talking about something as mundane as the weather, the ‘cotton candy summer,’ or whose mommy or daddy is better.  As they grow up, the distinctions between the two trios become more acerbic and heated, until, as adults, “Gone With the Wind” and the ramifications of the civil war becomes the central theme.  The six actresses (Jessica Sade Ward, Arianna Evangelia, Ash Saunders, Maria Jimena Gastelum, Katie Spokely and Swisyzinna), in this opus production are all equally stellar, and each proves their own unique mettle with a combination of dance, haunting vocal (operatic, blues & jazz), and great comedic delivery.  The story is a poignant melange of so many real life experiences, that as distant observers of the horrors of slavery, lynching, and the Ku Klux Klan in Jim Crow south, one cannot help but be moved to tears by the terrible abuses of the mantra, “live and let live,” or the maxim of Gandhi, “love thine enemy,” or Rodney King’s dying question, “why can’t we all just get along?”  Harry Jones is the director of “Southern Girls,” with a most impressive bio (Fences, Talking Bones, A Woman Called Truth).  As impressive are the bios of the entire company.  It must be mentioned that the set proves to be extremely powerful, with one picture of a seemingly idyllic farm with a white picket fence, and a rainbow over it, a symbol of the proverbial ‘calm before the storm.’  The complimentary background music of “ Hush Little Baby, Don’t Say A Word,” Aretha’s “Respect,” and “We Shall Not Be Moved,” and a rendition of Billie Holliday’s “Strange Fruit,” are as visceral as a thunderbolt of lightning.  I walked out of the theatre, blurting to myself, kudos that we’ve survived.  But I’m not the only one, I’m sure you will do likewise. 

co-written by Charlie Prior

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Peace & Quiet, with a Lot of Laughs… in “Piece of Mind,” @ Write Act Rep

“Piece of Mind,” written by Emma Wood, and directed by Susan C. Hunter, now graces the stage at the impeccable Write Act Repertory Theatre in Noho Arts district.  The play is a very clever conceit, which explores the fallibility of the two main characters, both nurses, Allie (Stephanie T.Keefer); and Gwen (Carla Valentine), who are learning to deal with  death and the innate fear of it. The play is about mirage and deception and the pathetic human attempt to beat Beelzebub at the insidious game of death and life. Upon entering this tiny but handsome set interior, one can’t help but notice an almost too ornate velveted burgundy coffin, placed centrally in a funeral parlor.  The nurses have come to the end of their illustrious, yet under appreciated careers,  saving souls.  Allie is in the coffin, having apparently died.  Gwen is eulogizing her colleague and friend, with painful revelations and assertions, ironic and humorous anecdotes, never spoken to her when alive.  At one point, she mentions a pair of boots near and dear to Allie that had mysteriously disappeared.  Gwen confesses , unequivocally, “I stole them.”  Up pops Allie, who can take no more, and grabs the boots out of Gwen’s hands, and says, “the nerve of you, my so called friend; what a phony you are.”  Then we are off to the races with this ribald satire dark comedy.  Both retired and broke, they  concoct a scheme to start up a business, called “Piece of Mind,” assisted by Allie’s daughter, Tess, ( Dani Mohrbach), who is annoyingly computer savvy and we quickly discover that she creates a website that accrues over nine hundred followers on social media overnight.  The services provided include the concept that couples (and singles) with various issues, can attain peace of mind, by positing one person in the bier and the other extolling one’s virtues and truths, a eulogy, as it were.  In essence, cleaning the slate.  With the aid of wonderful multi media videos, and enticing jazz music, the ‘effect’ is very successful.  An investor, Rowena ( Roxie Lee), shows up, which adds suspense to the already absurd scheme.  With multiple twists and turns in this well written play, along with excellent acting by a superb ensemble, and the genius behind this company, artistic director John Lant, “Piece of Mind” is extraordinary.  See this show.  You will be highly entertained and gratified, knowing that small theatre in Los Angeles is indeed alive and well, and thriving.  Write Act Rep is a deeply intrinsic and valuable part of the integrated local  arts scene. 

*co -written by Charlie Prior

http://www.write act

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Schtick Gone Merry in “Santasia” @ the Whitefire

“Santasia, A Holiday Comedy,” now playing at the esteemed Whitefire Theatre, is a musical song and dance compilation that is hilarious, captivating and gaudy in one.  This journey through the tawdry side of Xmas is brilliantly captured by the all male (and one female) ensemble (Brandon & Shaun Loeser; Tara Jean O’Brien; Adam Slemon; Rusty Locke; and Terry Woodberry.  The show starte 23 years ago at the Secret Rose Theatre and has evolved over the years to a  substantial theatre space, consistently playing to sold out crowds.

Their creative SNL caliber sketches are sure to be appreciated by one and all.   Directed and accentuated by the Loeser brothers, this motley group of men, (and woman) , and an equally qualified backstage team coalesce to make this production a comedy gem. Singing and dancing abundant, gags galore, pratfalls a plenty ; the cast presents bizarre yet sentimental Christmas memories both past and present.  A series of animated shorts projected onscreen above stage enhance the overall live stage activity; of particular note, a spoof on “penguins can’t fly.”

Broadway musicals, including The Lion King, Hamilton, A Chorus Line, Chicago, as well as classic films like Top Gun (‘Top Deer’), and Home Alone, are all brilliantly parodied.   I loved this show in all its glory-/ uplifting, side splitting, and well worth seeing.

The gems of comedy, many from popular classic films , a blast from the past with scenes and characters that  made us all laugh this holiday and ‘forget our troubles, come on be happy.’  One memorable sketch was the song , “I Hope I Get It,” where cast members emulate children wishing for their favorite toy, such as an easy bake oven, only to face trials and tribulations that arise. The show is both hilarious and clever, in one.

‘Tis the season’ to laugh and be merry, and what could be a better treat than a light hearted performance of Santasia, soon becoming an annual cult favorite, sure to produce  sold out audiences. The show is filled with wit, schtick, and continues on with magical, familiar songs  and skits at every interval.  The atmosphere likened a Saturday Night Live sketch  show right here on the west coast.  Filled with audience participation, at one point Santa reaches into his sack and pulls out envelopes with audience names written on them!  Amidst all the chaos and conflicts of family holiday gatherings elsewhere, this audience had the privilege to escape into the hysterical world of holiday humor.  

Whitefire Theatre  13500 Ventura Blvd

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Inside the Memory Palace… of Vinny DePonto @ the Geffen

“Mindplay,” created and performed by Vinny DePonto, is a tantalizing production from the esteemed Geffen playhouse.  “Vanishing Vinny,” as he was famously known in his hometown of Dobbs Ferry, New York, is a mentalist, not only a talented writer, but a dynamic performer.  Upon entering the theatre, the audience receives a slip of paper, asking, basically, “a penny for one’s thoughts. “ (or a five dollar bill, as the case may be .)  As I entered the theatre, I thought about what I should jot down, what keeps me up at night.  Then I noticed a sparse set, including a night table and corded phone that rings incessantly throughout the show.  An audience member is highlighted by a spotlight, who is encouraged by an unknown voice in the background to introduce the show’s star, DePonto.  Vinny is smooth as silk velvet as he proceeds to choose audience interaction, reading their minds and even transferring thoughts from one to another.  One amazing scene involves a giant bank deposit box with a life of its own.  “Mindplay” is a visual , auditory, mental spectacle that’s sure to bedazzle, involve, and leave you feeling uplifted, and connected to those around you, almost in a metaphysical way.  One will be more prepared to deal with the miasma of ideas that constantly flood our brains.  “Vanishing Vinny” grew up in the idyllic hamlet of Dobbs Ferry, on the Hudson River, and did magic shows and tricks, which he developed and honed, and made his way, ultimately to the stage of the prestigious Geffen in Los Angeles.  His picture on the playbill says it all.  Very intense and riveting, leading you to believe you are in for a literally transformative evening, which might just change your life for the good.  I certainly felt that way.  Take the journey. You will not be sorry.  DePonto wrote “Mindplay” with Josh Koenigsberg, directed by Andrew Neisler, and produced by Emmy and Tony award winning Eva Price.  All the backstage elements, lighting , music, sound effects, are immersive, and Geffen.’s high bar is yet again exceeded.  

*review, co written by Charles Prior

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A Groundbreaking Show @ Theatre West; Eisenhower: This Piece of Ground

At show’s start, in “Eisenhower: This Piece of Ground,” Dwight D.Eisenhower (John Rubinstein) is infuriated as he talks into a microphone, after just reading the New York Times’ analysis ratings of presidents, and reacts to learning that his rating is designated as twenty two (with a high of one hundred) on the list.  He carries that as a prop, addressing many critiques of his policies and executive decisions.   He is very authentic and credible, quite careful when talking into the mic, knowing fully that the Feds and other assorted  higher-ups, not to mention the public, are listening in.  At one point, he is about to say “pain in the ass,”yet quickly changes it to “pain in the neck.”  The iconic setting is the Eisenhower farm sun porch in the very historic Gettysburg town (site of one of the bloodiest battles in American history).  Displayed on a multi media screen onstage are various prominent political personalities, and most personally and nearest and dearest to him is none other than a picture of his beloved wife, Mamie (a truly beautiful woman, inside and out ).  He then ‘introduces’  General Douglas McArthur, whose egotism is blatantly obvious, with a corncob pipe in his mouth and a look like he was a dynamic emperor of the earth. Then, we ‘meet’ former Secretary of State, George Marshall, whose Marshall Plan modified, shaped, and improved post war Europe.  Not only is the one man show entertainment par excellence, but an informative history lesson as well.  John Rubinstein created a very human, approachable Eisenhower: a man who knew victories were hard won and not without flaws (D Day); who, upon retirement from the presidency, did not enjoy the highest esteem among historians; and who, though an arch opponent of McCarthy, failed to defend his mentor George Marshall from McCarthy’s attacks, to his lifelong regret. Yes, a very human general-a West Point man whose mother was a pacifist, a very ironic and poignant factor of his life.  Eisenhower was an ornery man, who came from humble roots, working the multitude of jobs that a young boy on a farm was required to do.  His rise up the ranks in the U.S. army resulted in his promotion to five star general, in charge of the U.S. post in WW2, and becoming the president for two terms, a job he never dreamed possible.  It must be duly noted that heavy responsibilities that came with the territory of his occupation were not his chosen ‘cup of tea,’ (he quite preferred scotch, actually). The acclaimed Broadway and television star, John Rubinstein is a brilliant choice for the portrayal of Eisenhower.  He fills the role, on this simple set, with such gusto, passion, and dedication. It’s obvious the amount of character research the actor put into preparation for this role of a lifetime.  His career notes, accolades, and stellar credits in the playbill go on and on, rightfully so.  The play is a nostalgic look at an ever so humble yet great man in history, a high achiever, who realized the significance of the issues of his day (still timely to the present time!), such as civil rights; war; and economic inequity.  He realized these issues must be dealt with using fire and brimstone, unwavering focus and determination.  The process of developing this production is awesome and awe inspiring in one.  It is uplifting, educational, humorous, and powerful.  You will be enthralled from start to finish, and bedazzled by this evocative, and incredible relevance to our present world.  The sale of “I like Ike” campaign buttons in the theatre’s lobby reminded me so much of the 50’s and 60’s political era.  

Theatre West is the oldest extant venue in Los Angeles and has yet again revealed its high standards in this play.

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“The Inheritance,” @ the Geffen, A Rich Legacy

Many a profound work of theatre has been written and presented on the AIDS epidemic, which include Angels in America; And the Band Played On; A Normal Heart, and Rent to name a few. Now comes the exquisite “The Inheritance,” a two part masterpiece with a smart sophisticated story and dialogue by playwright Matthew Lopez .  The play is a tribute to all the glorious lives lost too soon. amidst  the crux of the AIDS crisis.  America today is still coping with the HIV/Aids crisis of the 80’s, and its ghosts are still haunting us, as is evident by the  myriad of wandering lost souls in the aisles and onstage at the Geffen playhouse.  This  period of time was filled with hysteria and those infected were facing an inevitable death sentence.  It’s so refreshing to witness the wellspring of performance art, the one good thing that came out of this time period, a chance for writers and actors to make meaning of this horrible plague that took loved ones’ precious lives too soon and senselessly.  It’s also a chance for catharsis and mourning of the huge destruction this illness brought, and also an opportunity to fight for justice and speak out against so many political leaders, who turned a blind eye. It is thanks to kind souls like Walter Poole (Bill Brochtrup); Eric Glass (Adam Kantor); and Margaret Avery (Tantoo Cardinal), who took in the ailing and infirmed as if they were their own kin.  

 The play centers on Eric Glass, (Kantor), on the inheritance of his lifetime, both literally and figuratively.  Beautiful language and poetic images are given right from the start, vividly recalling literary geniuses, such as E.M. Forster’s Howard’s End.  As the sun sets on Walter’s life, we approach the  sunset years of so many lives he touched.  Another creative, yet somewhat tragic character enters the stage, Leo (Bradley James Tejada),  At show’s start, he attracts Toby Darling (Juan Castano),  since he resembles former lover Adam (Tejada), and we realize what all three characters have in common is that they are all  lonely misanthropes. It’s tragic that they losing hope and losing friends and soulmates   just at the prime of their lives. are  Toby’s looking for his writing career  to bring some added excitement and zest to his ordinary hum drum life.  Eric  is the perpetual idealist who surrounds himself  with  friends who are vibrant and interesting, to  bring new meaning to his life upon their arrival to his home in the Hamptons. Amidst all this drama queen ado, is a subplot involving Margaret  (Cardinal) , still deep in grief over her son she regretfully barely knew , and how she compensated later in life with future generations of young men afflicted with AIDS.  This play takes us back to a moment in history with a nation in mourning, yet it also highlights very real, very raw personal mourning, adarker legacy, as thousands infected were dying each day.  This plague took a generation of our youth, gone way too soon; and The Inheritance reveals the idea of inheritance, both material and spiritual.  Two generations come together to forge a new way forward.  What better way to rectify the tragic stance of history. 

For the most part, I was interested and engaged, during both intensely long acts, as these strong, proactive men living out their best lives and their possible journey to find love and lucrative careers along the way.  Lopez  is spot on in writing good characters, dialogue and conflict; each member of the ensemble making a vivid, memorable first impression. Well directed by Mike Donahue, it’s a piece that accurately and relevantly portrays an important part of American history, but still keeps you guessing what will happen next. 

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Oklahoma is “A-Ok” @ the Ahmanson

“Oklahoma,” by Rodgers and Hammerstein, is the tried and true classic show in the American musical theatre playbook. It’s brilliance is evident, as this production has been done, not only on Broadway, but throughout many a stage worldwide, from major theatres to high school auditoriums. What seems like a story of cowpokes, cowboys, and cowgirls, replete with cowboy boots and ten gallon hats, is morphed into the director’s (Daniel Fish) uber creative reimagining/conception of this musical as a multi racial, multi gender extravaganza. Although far different from the original work, and not “quite your grandmother’s Oklahoma,” the show stays true to form with all of the Rodgers and Hammerstein’s classical musical numbers, including “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top,” “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning,” and “I Can’t Say No.” The plot is simple, as Laurey (masterfully portrayed by Sasha Hutchins), juggles two lovers, whilst Ado Annie (the amazing Sis) also has two love interests, who try at every turn to outwit and outsmart each other, which continuously makes the subplots interesting and ever dynamic. The use of smoke, fog, and complete darkness, even while the ensemble is taking and singing onstage is so surreal and ethereal, almost as in a dream state yet in real time. Hard to get the vision out of one’s head , long after show’s end. The big smoke puff is symbolic of the show’s ultimate confusion and unpredictability. This contrast turns a wholesome musical into a Brecht/Ionesco theatre of the absurd, where the main characters transform into “Six Characters in Search of an Author.” Statements and sentiments about the vagaries of life (and death ) is poetically revealed by the talented actor, Christopher Bannow, as Jud Fry, whose unrequited love for Laurey is sure to resonate with many an audience member. All the bad stuff that is seemingly part of life’s darker sides is concentrated in the character of Jud, as he unconditionally loves Laurey, while she toys with the affectations of Curly (Sean Grandillo). The set’s picnic table, bedecked with colorful tassels and bright yellow ears of corn, reminiscent of a country fair, is already present as we enter the theatre, yet rifles loom on the wall, foreshadowing the ominous darkness. The ballet dance sequence which opens act two, is reminiscent of the 1930’s dust bowl, which devastated Okies and nearby states, so beautifully depicted in John Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath.” Director Daniel Fish has miraculously transformed this zany, once colorful musical into his own unique interpretation, complete with darkness and light contrasting; special sound effects, smoke, fog, and clouds not withstanding.

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Mike Birbiglia Performs Swimmingly in “The Old Man and The Pool”

The first thing we notice when Mike Birbiglia walks onto the sparest of sets, replete with a backdrop of a simulated YMCA swimming pool and a stool, is how extremely relaxed he is onstage. He feels totally at home and at ease with his supportive audience, which profusely claps, even at his mere entrance. They seem to really know this guy and appreciate his unique, unusual sense of humor, which explains how he can carry a 90 minute stand up routine at the Mark Taper Forum. He talks about personal issues, most prominently, his health and aging, which confound and impact many a human being, of all shapes, sizes, and ages. His position is brilliant, for not only realizing the absurdity of these universal situations, but instilling the maybe not so obvious humor entailed. He starts from recollections from his youth, when he would accompany his parents into the gym’s locker room , and he would find himself eye level to a multitude of penises and vaginas. He was truly perplexed when noticing a large , completely naked man stroking his genitals, and his description is revealed to the audience’s raucous and sustained delight. He also mentions his mother’s insistence that he takes swimming lessons, and when graded, amidst his skilled competitors, promptly receives a D minus. Then he proceeds to show his swimming technique, which consists of flailing about, almost drowning, akin to a baby bird first learning to spread wings and fly. He manages to precipitously undertake adulthood, with all its jolts and jabs, trials and tribulations, which he shows us, sometimes by using the set to its fullest potential, sometimes sitting, sometimes lying down, and always the pool at the YMCA at the forefront, where he slips and falls, whilst making Shakespearean asides, which his very enthusiastic, loyal fans sitting beside me, mouthed before he even spoke them. As his show progresses, he portrays an old man, who is beleaguered by the cacophony and madness of the world about him. The picture of a guy, lying down, splayed out with eyes shut, on the cover of the program playbill says it all. Mike Birbiglia is the quintessential stand up comedian, who tries to simply entertain, in his most natural way, revealing that since people don’t learn from their constant mistakes, and change, but rather repeat them, he monopolizes on this concept, and submits to the reality. Mike is an adroit, facile, and intelligent entertainer, who embarks on a journey of a lifetime, at the pool. His show sustains an hour and a half, in which you will be truly charmed.

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