Old Reviews of New Transfers: Mike Birbiglia’s New One, Daniel’s Husband, School Girls or the African Mean Girls Play

“The New One “isn’t literally new. Mike Birbiglia’s solo show debuted Off-Broadway three months ago – where it sold out quickly. It’s now on Broadway – same cast (i.e. Mike Birbiglia), same creative team, a bigger stage, a few new producers.
I liked it when it was at the Cherry Lane. I’m happy that Birbiglia is making his Broadway debut. I feel no need to see the show again, just so that I can write something like: He’s still funny in a larger theater.
For different reasons, I also don’t want to see “Daniel’s Husband” again, which is also transferring from the Cherry Lane, nor “School Girls, or the African Mean Girls Play”, which, with a few cast changes, isn’t even transferring: It’s being presented a year later in the same theater. So, below are summaries of my old reviews of the three productions, plus links to the full reviews, and new photographs.

The New One
Now at Broadway’s Cort Theater through January 20, 2019
First opened at Cherry Lane, August 2, 2018

“The New One” winds up a fresh, funny, subversive and even occasionally moving account of becoming and then being a father — his wife’s efforts to convince him to have a child (“I’m going to work hard to make sure the baby doesn’t change the way we live.” – ha!); his struggle with fertility (“I told you, my body’s a lemon”); his wife’s “75 months” of pregnancy (she tells him at one point: “I feel like a mammal. I want to go to the Museum of Natural History with the other mammals”); and the birth and first year of Oona – which, Birbiglia tells us pointedly, means “one.”
Full Original Review

School Girls, or The African Mean Girls Play,
back at the Lucille Lortel Theater through December 9
First opened November, 2017
What’s different: Cast members Latoya Edwards, Joanna A. Jones and Zenzi Williams

“School Girls, or The African Mean Girls Play,” whose title is almost longer than its running time, was inspired by a true story. Pageant officials in Ghana maneuvered for an American-born Ghanian beauty queen of mixed race to represent the West African country in the Miss Universe pageant of 2011, reasoning that her lighter complexion would give her a better chance in the contest. Bioh, a New York actress and playwright who is a first generation Ghanian-American, grafted onto that story the experiences of her mother at Aburi, an elite boarding in Ghana where (as Bioh tells us in a note in the script), her mother was “a (proud) mean girl.”…about 45 minutes into the 70-minute play, it takes a turn. .. the situation explodes — Paulina attacks, Ericka counter-attacks, the headmistress scolds, the recruiter retreats, chaos reigns, somebody bleeds, truths out, ironies emerge, the two luckiest girls in the school turn out not to be so lucky. And what becomes clear is how deliberate Bioh’s crafting of her play and how intriguing her insights.

Full review

Daniel’s Husband, at Westside Theater for an open run
First opened at Cherry Lane April 2017,

Daniel’s Husband” begins the way so many gay plays have in the years since “Boys in the Band” first opened Off-Broadway – gay friends gathered together making witty banter. At a dinner party in a tastefully appointed home (admirably detailed by set designer Brian Prather), we get to know Mitchell, who makes a living as a gay romance novelist, an odd occupation given his cynicism; and Daniel (Ryan Spahn), his partner of seven years, an architect who clearly likes structure in his life; he does want to get married. …Almost an hour into the 90-minute running time, “Daniel’s Husband” turns into a different play. …Given Mitchell’s explicit arguments against gay marriage in the first half of the play, the turn of events becomes an implicit refutation of Mitchell’s beliefs, a one-sided argument for the necessity of gay people getting married. “Daniel’s Husband” becomes an odd and simplistic cautionary tale. Only the acting under Joe Brancato’s direction saves us from utter authorial strong-arming.

Full Review

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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