Stalking Spaulding Gray | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Stalking Spaulding Gray

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For years Steven Schwarz was a man obsessed--not with an idea but with a man: Spalding Gray. Schwarz idolized the New York-based monologuist (famous for such autobiographical works as Swimming to Cambodia, Sex and Death to the Age 14, and Monster in a Box), bought every book he wrote, saw every self-obsessed piece he performed, rented every movie documenting his work. Then, slowly, Schwarz fell out of obsession. And in this hilarious mix of parody, homage, and autobiography he recounts the process of disillusionment. Performed in the classic Gray style--Schwarz sits behind a nearly bare table, pitcher of water at hand, notebook open before him, small visual aid nearby--Stalking Spalding Gray is at once a fan's diary, describing in detail several mundane encounters between Schwarz and Gray, and a long, Spalding-esque, tragicomic account of Schwarz's automobile accident during the 2001 Toronto film festival, an event that woke him up to his own life. Schwarz isn't nearly as polished a performer as Gray--he fidgets, sometimes stutters, speaks too quickly or too slowly--but then that's his point: he loves wringing laughs out of the pathetic realization that he'll never be as at ease onstage as his idol. On the other hand, as long as he has a story worth telling, it doesn't matter. In an age when we're encouraged to believe that our own lives are less valuable than the lives of celebrities, Schwarz's comical tale of self-discovery is definitely worth telling. Lunar Cabaret, 2827 N. Lincoln, 773-327-6666. Through September 27: Fridays, 7 PM. Then Thursday, October 10, 7 PM. $10 or "pay what you can."

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