David Greenspan is one of the most entertaining actors working in New York theater. We've previously enjoyed his sly, intelligent performances in The Beebo Brinker Chronicles and The Dinner Party, and he's currently back on stage in a revival of his solo show The Myopia. Like his award-winning turn in The Argument, which was a surprisingly engaging staging of Aristotle's 2,200-yearold lecture, The Myopia is nothing but Greenspan. The only set pieces are a bottle of water and a chair, in which Greenspan is confined for the entire two hour production.
In a prologue, Greenspan describes his show as "an epic burlesque of tragic proportion," which he sets out to recreate with nothing but his voice and body. This is essentially theater for "theater people," and it begins with an intellectual examination of what distinguishes live performance from film and television. "Nothing happens in a picture—it's already happened—whereas in the theater what is happening is actually happening—it is happening as it happens—it is an act. A picture is never an act!" This is not a particularly novel concept, but it's telling that during the next couple of hours Greenspan's live "act" consists of sitting and talking. He seems to be asking himself and his audience how little one can "do" on stage and still call it theater.
What issues forth after the preamble is a disorienting, baffling fairy tale of sorts, impossible to summarize, and involving over a dozen characters ranging from Warren G. Harding to Carol Channing to "an illuminated globe of singularly ocular appearance" named Barclay. I couldn't begin to tell you what it's about, but there's something in there about a writer's desire to complete a musical about President Harding, and much of it is very funny. Other parts are somewhat tedious and self-indulgent, and the first act drags toward the end (I found the second act to be considerably livelier).
Much of your enjoyment of this peculiar monologue depends on your appreciation for David Greenspan, but I don't know how one could not be charmed by this inimitable raconteur. If his goal of transporting audiences merely with the incantatory power of words sometimes fails to take flight, it's worth sticking around for the moments that soar.