Comedian and storyteller Mike Birbiglia has a rare sleepwalking disorder – one that almost killed him. As he tells it, one night—in the throes of a particularly vivid, bad-guy-chase-sequence dream—a sleepwalking Birbiglia launched himself through the double-paned, second-story window of a La Quinta hotel room. He awoke to find himself openly bleeding amidst a scattering of glass on the hotel’s front lawn, wearing only his underwear.
If I were a betting woman, I’d think his luck couldn’t get worse. But I would be Dead. Wrong.
Birbiglia kicked off the first week of his national tour of The New One at the National Theatre this week, unleashing upon his audience all of the gruesome, woe-is-him, sometimes too-much-information details of his life’s latest and greatest misery. That’s right. Birbiglia has become a parent.
And if you thought his death-defying superhero leap was the worst—or even the most embarrassing—experience of his life, you’re in for a treat. Birbiglia’s unique brand of painfully true, wickedly funny storytelling is as sharp as ever. With only a few props and a handful of lighting and music cues to embellish his act, the comedian holds his audience rapt with a 80-minute tell-all diatribe.
The New One, Birbiglia’s fourth one-man show, opened on Broadway in October 2018 following a sold-out, extended run off-Broadway, and won a 2019 Drama Desk Award. To borrow from some of the glowing reviews emblazoned on the theater’s marquee: “Go.” “Go.” “Go.” And soon: the Washington run ends Saturday, September 28.
But, please, leave your kids at home – and maybe your spouse if you ever think you want to have children.
The New One. Written and performed by Birbiglia, featuring additional writing by Birbiglia’s wife, Jennifer Hope Stein. Directed by Seth Barrish, Assistant Director Elizabeth Bennett. Scenic Design by Beowulf Boritt. Lighting Design by Aaron Copp. Sound Design by Leon Rothenberg. Presented at The National Theatre . Reviewed by Meaghan Hannan Davant.