THE IMBIBLE: A SPIRITED HISTORY OF DRINKING – a Review
I was familiar with the Irish word for “Cheers” (Good Health) having seen “Sláinte” in writing but had never heard it pronounced out loud until mixologist and raconteur Anthony Caporale uttered “Slan-cha” during the performance of THE IMBIBLE: A SPIRITED HISTORY OF DRINKING currently playing in New York City.
Salud, Na zdorovie, Skal, Proost, Cin cin, Sei gesund: These are the drinking toasts I have previously heard in action. Curious that Anthony, a walking Encyclopedia Britannica of knowledge (some facts from Wikipedia) didn’t expound on this custom from around the world during this entertaining evening billed as a musical comedy drinking show. Nevermind. A quick google search of my own found plenty of websites on how to say cheers in 50 languages.
The show takes place in a bar located in the New World Stages theatrical complex where 4 other shows are currently playing, including Avenue Q. Indeed during the intermission of those other shows, their audience members tried to crash our show, seeking a drink, thinking it was a working bar.
Actually it is a working bar and 3 complimentary craft cocktails are served to this over 21 audience during the course of the performance. (The real bar in the building is called The Green Room.)
The difference between a cocktail and a mixed drink? Between a mixologist and a bartender? How beer is made (and brewed in front of us.) All these are revealed during this in-depth review of the 10,000 year history of alcohol. Even his explanation of the provenance of the word itself made me think about other “al-“ words: Alhambra popped into my mind.
Popcorn is placed at each table – seating is at banquets or cocktail tables — and the bowl refilled during the show as “Professor” Caporale spoke for almost 2 hours (can I get Continuing Education credit or at least a certificate?) and also made a yummy Gin and Tonic for everyone in the audience.
Three other cast members, The Backwaiters acapella group, provided vocal stylings, in multiple costume changes (cavemen, Egyptians, lab coated scientists, the Queen of England) while serving as cocktail waiters for the audience.
Our other two drinks were a Shandy made of Coney Island Overpass IPA beer and Ginger Ale and a Creamsicle Old Fashioned.
This is the kind of audience participation I can agree to, while others answered questions Anthony threw out, or filled in the words to I Will Survive, as singer/cocktail waitress/co-producer/director Nicole DiMattei paused during her song.
Audience members who happened to be bartenders were urged to tell their favorite bar jokes and they complied.
I felt educated and nearly intoxicated (from the word “toxic” hence alcohol poisoning) as the evening progressed. Luckily I had my own big drinker date with me, John, who happily finished off my drinks.
Immersive theater at its finest. If you’re trying to decide “shall we go to a show tonite, or just get a drink” no compromising needed here.
John in fact contributed his own joke: When I told him we’re going to a show that takes place in a bar, he quipped “A show walks into a bar. And the bartender said ‘Why the long farce?’ “
By Lisa Skriloff, Multicultural Travel News, Multicultural Entertainment News