When the New York theatre world last heard from monologuist Spalding Gray, he was appearing as a politician in Ethan McSweeny's well-received revival of Gore Vidal's The Best Man on Broadway. After that, he was bringing his latest solo, Morning, Noon and Night, to various venues across the country, though an automobile collision in June put a temporary halt to his traveling.
One might assume that Gray, who's spun evening-long monologues about everything from his eye operation (Grey's Anatomy) to his unpublished mega-novel (Monster in a Box), would jump on the opportunity to bring his accident and recovery to theatrical life. And maybe he is, but for now, Gray is instead currently revisiting the piece that first made his name: Swimming to Cambodia.
Penned when Gray was still a relative unknown and later filmed by Jonathan Demme, Cambodia tells of his experiences appearing in a small role in the film, "The Killing Fields." Courtesy of Garage Productions, Gray has been offering a "rework in progress" of the monologue Nov. 14-Dec. 12 at Off-Off-Broadway's Performing Garage, home of The Wooster Group, of which Gray is a founding member. The final performance, Dec. 12, has long been sold out, though Wooster Group does keep a waiting list. For tickets ($25) and information on Swimming to Cambodia call (212) 966-9796. Like many Wooster Group workshop offerings, Swimming to Cambodia is open to the public but not open for review.
In Swimming to Cambodia, Gray recounts his experiences on the film "The Killing Fields," from his audition to shooting in Thailand. While some of his material centers on the forbidden excesses of Bangkok (a "banana show," strippers and the like), he also talks about the subject of the Academy Award winning film — the murder of millions of Cambodians by the Khmer Rouge.
Following the New York stint, Gray swims with Cambodia to San Francisco's American Conservatory Theatre's Geary Theatre for a run Dec. 26-31. For San Francisco ticket information, call (415) 749 2250. American Conservatory Theatre is located at 415 Geary Street. American Conservatory Theatre is on the web at http://www.act-sfbay.org. — By David Lefkowitz and Christine Ehren