Sunday, April 1, 2007
Spalding Gray: Stories Left to Tell
The wooden desk is there, and the wooden chair, too. The composition notebooks abound. The only thing that's missing is Spalding Gray, the incomparable monologist who killed himself three years ago. The thing is, though, that he is there, on stage at the Minetta Lane Theatre, where Spalding Gray: Stories Left to Tell is currently running. Directed by Lucy Sexton with help from Gray's widow, Kathleen Russo, five wonderful actors are inhabiting both Gray's words and his life. They each embody a different emotion that he wrote about: Kathleen Chalfant is Love; Hazelle Goodman is Adventure; Frank Wood is Family; and Ain Gordon is the designated journal reader. A fifth actor--exceptionally play at the performance I attended by Josh Lucas, who's in the show until April 8--represents Gray career. The regular quarter is also wonderful. Chalfant started out shaky, but quickly overcame her actory mannerisms to deliver stories of Gray's relationships; Goodman is magnetic, sliding around the stage like a snake; Wood, who resembles Gray both physically and vocally, is moving and affecting, telling of Gray's clinging relationship to his mother and her suicide at age 52; and Gordon, a monologist himself, wisely approaches the journals not as Spalding Gray, but as an outside interpreter. I went in with trepidation, but I left with an open heart knowing that I had seen a beautiful tribute to a man, his life, his work and his memory.