Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Review: Drunk History

By Michael Block 

FringeNYC can be a fairy tale for a show. Sometimes you can journey from way downtown theater to Times Square marquee. After filling glasses to audiences for some time, The Imbible takes over The Green Room bar at New World Stages. Written and curated by Anthony Caporale, The Imbible takes the bar crowd through the history of the thing we call alcohol.
The Imbible is more than just drunk theater. It's educational theater at its finest. Dare even call it hands-on as you're gifted a trio of libations including a beer, gin and tonic, and quite possibly the best old fashioned you'll ever have. The premise that Caporale has concocted is engaging. The text is virtually a history and science of liquor through recorded time. It veers into educational EPCOT attraction at times with the amount of information you're served up. With all the alcohol you take in, it's hard to say how much information you'll properly take in by the time you leave. That aside, what The Imbible is a ball of energy that keeps Caporale's expertise in the forefront. If you compare it to something like Bill Nye the Science Guy, it's a quirky teaching tool but The Imbible can go even further to amp up the comedy. The quick comedic moments that featured the ensemble were some of the strongest in the entire show. Why? Because it's simultaneously entertaining and educational. Perhaps it's playing into incorporating sound cues or sacrificing a direct address or two for the quartet as the barer of information. Even throwing in some comic sound cues can elevate the piece. As a writer, Caporale brings a plethora of passion and knowledge into his production, bringing the audience on a ride like no other. But the piece occasionally gets bogged down by being a few steps ahead of the slightly tipsy crowd. Though, those who are enthralled by fact will certainly get what they came for.
While this show is a perfect showcase for Caporale's surplus of knowledge and skills, the show is boosted with the help of the Backwaiters. With silly costumes and tight harmonies, the supporting trio of Tia Andriani, Ruthellen Cheney, and Luke Schaffer, are the pulse of the piece. Honoring the vocal stylings of acapella, Andriani, Cheney, and Schaffer each got a moment in the spotlight, though Schaffer had a few extra beats of natural hilarity.
The intimate bar setting allowed the ambiance to shine. While the majority of the seating creates a slight thrust-like stage, there a lucky few who get to sit at the bar. No matter where you sit, you'll miss something. It's the nature of the environment. And for those who arrive early, relish in the liquor-inspired pre-show playlist.  The aid of visuals on the monitor were a nice touch but occasionally drew some prime focus.
If you like to drink, get yourself to the Green Room at New World Stages for The Imbible. Even if you don't learn anything, you're bound to have a great time.