The Old Man and the Pool Review – Growing Old with a Grin

Mike Birbiglia in THE OLD MAN AND THE POOL - Photo by Craig Schwartz Photography
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Who else but Mike Birbiglia could find humor in a series of medical emergencies, cardio exercises – and a nearly naked old man? You’ll find out when you see the world premiere of MIKE BIRBIGLIA: THE OLD MAN AND THE POOL. Written and performed by Mike Birbiglia and directed by Seth Barrish, the production underscores Birbiglia’s unique form of comedic storytelling as he describes a coming-of-middle-age story about what to expect as we grow older (but let’s hope not).

Mike Birbiglia – Photo by Craig Schwartz Photography

As the years slowly progress, Mike Birbiglia finds himself spending more and more time in doctors’ offices – and discovers that his various ailments may begin to dictate the path of his life. When Birbiglia’s cardiologist unexpectedly diagnoses some scary heart problems – and offers some life-altering solutions – he must re-evaluate his priorities and preferences. It looks like some increased exercise is in order for a man who slipped through his youth by skillfully avoiding too much strain on those perennially relaxed muscles. Somehow, he joined the high school wrestling team and managed to avoid any physical combat – except with other wrestlers who were as interested as he was in ending the competition before it began. All of the choices he considers fall short of any enthusiasm – but the best of the worst seems to be swimming – in a YMCA hyper-chlorinated pool, bringing back not-so-fond memories of a childhood avoiding those very same waters. He recalls crowds of penises and vaginas over his head in the pool when he was barely six – and the memory remains painfully clear all these years later. But what choice does he have? Perhaps the current chemicals in the current pool will not cause a body to disintegrate in eight hours. On top of everything else, he finds that – as he faces each new medical challenge – it isn’t long before new crises pop up unbidden. And then he remembers an old man sitting by the pool when he as a little boy – and now just maybe he has become that old man.

Mike Birbiglia – Photo by Craig Schwartz Photography

Fans of Mike Birbiglia was cheer him on as he documents those very events which may bring terror to people facing middle age – and does it with side-splitting humor. A comedian, storyteller, director, and actor who has performed all over the world, Mike Birbiglia will delight audiences – especially those approaching middle age with trepidation. This is a man who has made an art of perfect timing. His pauses are spot-on, and his physicality is in faultless sync with his words. This is also a comedian with considerable talent who could probably read the telephone book to the audience and reap overwhelming laughter. THE OLD MAN AND THE POOL is the ideal follow-up to his earlier Center Theatre Group West Coast premiere of his award-winning show, “The New One,” a few years ago. Kudos to Beowulf Boritt’s scenic design, which is clever but never detracts from Birbiglia’s performance.

Mike Birbiglia – Photo by Craig Schwartz Photography

Get ready to roar with laugher and nod your head in appreciation and understanding as Mike Birbiglia takes you through his journey growing older. This is a consummate comedian whom you can’t help but like and relate to – all the while chortling, chuckling, and often roaring with laughter at his artful repertoire.

MIKE BIRBIGLIA: THE OLD MAN AND THE POOL runs through August 28, 2022, with performances at 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, at 2:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Sundays (no performance at 2:30 p.m. on July 30). The Mark Taper Forum is located at the Music Center, 135 N. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Tickets range from $30 to $110. For information and reservations, call 213-972-7231 or go online.

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