Entertainment » Theatre

The New One

by Brooke Pierce
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Dec 7, 2018
Mike Birbiglia in "The New One," currently on Broadway through January 20.
Mike Birbiglia in "The New One," currently on Broadway through January 20.  

Ever since his Off-Broadway hit, "Sleepwalk with Me" (which later became a film), Mike Birbiglia has become beloved by theatergoers for his ability to create shows that have all the laughs of a great comedy set combined with the heartfelt drama of a satisfying play. His latest, "The New One," directed by Seth Barrish, brings Birbiglia to Broadway for the first time.

In one of his previous shows, Birbiglia took us on his extremely reluctant journey to marriage, and in "The New One," he tackles the almost inevitable follow-up: his extremely reluctant journey to fatherhood. It includes many of the "plot" points you might expect, from him making his airtight case for why he shouldn't have children to him giving into his beloved wife Jen's urging that they try parenthood, followed by difficulty conceiving and wacky birthing classes and sleepless nights.

What makes it all different from the countless books and movies and sitcom episodes that feature the pains of having a baby is Birbiglia's signature style. He has an intensely likable, regular guy persona that is cut through with a subversive sense of humor that merrily questions all of society's most sacred institutions. Parenthood itself, he thinks, is probably due for a timely end. After all, look at the state of the world — who would want to bring a child into it?

But though Birbiglia has some good reasons to avoid fatherhood — one of the most compelling being his many health problems, including a dangerous sleep disorder — you can't help but to agree with his wife that he would probably be a great dad. He also found himself, however, a frustrated dad. He is refreshingly honest about some of the dark feelings that a new father can experience during endless bouts of baby wailing and even while observing (and feeling left out by) the mother-child bonding.

The serious stuff is touching, but mostly "The New One" is a lot of great laughs, as Birbiglia takes us on hilarious detours about his cherished couch, describes some of his most humiliating experiences, and explains how he turned a bedsheet into a straitjacket to keep himself subdued while sleeping. Both parents and those who are determined not to be parents alike will find plenty to appreciate in "The New One."

Go see it. You'll laugh till you cry, then you'll actually cry.

"The New One" runs through January 20 at the Cort Theatre, 138 West 48th Street, NYC. For information or tickets, call 212-239-6200 or visit www.thenewone.com

Brooke Pierce is a freelance writer and playwright in New York City. Her plays have received staged readings at the American Theatre of Actors, the Ensemble Studio Theatre, and Stage One Theater. Brooke is a member of the Drama Desk and the Dramatists Guild.


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