Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Spalding Gray's New Monologue Definitely Is His Most Emotional

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Spalding Gray's New Monologue Definitely Is His Most Emotional

Article excerpt

For the past decade, performer Spalding Gray has served the role of St. Louis' eccentric uncle, popping into town for a few days once every couple of years, engaging the family in wild and wonderful tales of a life out of balance.

However, the rules have now changed. Gray, here Friday night at Washington University's Edison Theatre for the first of two shows, carries a new set of baggage - a new and stable relationship, a child of his own, and a new outlook on life.

Entering his mid-50s, Gray finally seems to have found ways to confront his personal demons of neurosis, immaturity and distrust. And his latest monologue, "It's A Slippery Slope," shows us that the trip to his present weighs heavy with emotional and psychological pain. Yet Gray's stories are witty and hilarious, and such a paradox makes his work so appealing. Dressed in his uniform of plaid shirt and slacks, his mane of gray hair receding in front but growing longer than ever in back, the actor/writer/storyteller spent more than an hour and a half on stage, joined by nothing more than a table, a chair, a glass of water and a note pad. And one last prop, the most essential - his memories. Gray's reminisces lead the audience through the peaks and valleys of his career, his relationships and his mental state. As might be expected, this resulted in uncomfortable moments - talk of his mother's suicide, his infidelity, his methodical emotional crack-up. But like all great writers, Gray balances pathos with humor, and as a performer, he has few rivals in walking that fine line. An introspective few minutes on the death of his father magically becomes a comedy routine; self-loathing soliloquies end with a well-timed drink of water, a moment of silence and an uproarious punch-line. Like his previous one-man works, such as "Swimming to Cambodia," "Monster in a Box," and "Gray's Anatomy," this piece succeeds by working on multiple levels, with seemingly unrelated tales eventually coming together as a whole. …

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