Monster in a Box | Chicago Reader

Monster in a Box

Performance artist Spalding Gray's follow-up to his 1987 Swimming to Cambodia is easy and entertaining to watch, but has less thematic focus and directorial polish than its predecessor; Nick Broomfield directs this time, and though he's resourceful, his resources clearly don't match those of Jonathan Demme. Perhaps the overall sprawl of the material is partly to blame; the title refers to an 1,800-page novel Gray has been writing, which we see on the table in front of him, and most of the monologue is about professional activities that took Gray away from his work on it. Much of this qualifies as engaging but fairly lightweight sit-down comedy, capped by a stand-up routine in which Gray describes his experience playing the Stage Manager in a production of Our Town, complete with the negative reviews he got in the New York papers. Liberal guilt is once again a principal theme, and Gray's approach to the subject is more playful than polemical—which means that we wind up feeling tweaked and tickled more often than challenged or enlightened. But his powers as a writer and performer certainly hold one's attention. Incidentally, more than five dozen names appear in the credits of this one-man show, including Laurie Anderson (for the music) and Skip Lievsay (for the sound effects).

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Cast information not available at this time.

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