Jan 28

Daniel McIver’s Who Killed Spalding Gray dives into storytelling

by Jenna Shummoogum · 0 comments

Daniel MacIvor in Who Killed Spalding Gray – Part of 2016 High Performance Rodeo foot in air - Photo by Guntar Kravis

Daniel McIver opens his play Who Killed Spalding Gray by calling up a member of the audience and interviewing them. Opening night’s interview was with a man named Darcy. McIver asked him where he was from and what he did for a living. McIver then asked Darcy what he knows about McIver and his work and what he knows about Spalding Gray. The interview ended with the question is there a woman in your life whom you have lost?

Who Killed Spalding Gray is a solo show that tells three stories: The story of Spalding Gray and his struggle with depression, how he watched Tim Burton’s Big Fish, the last film he saw in his life and was last seen on the Staten Island Ferry. The second story is the tale about how McIver learned that he had an ‘entity’ attached to his soul and he had to see a psychic surgeon to get it removed. The third story is the story of Howard and how he doesn’t want to live anymore. He wants to end his life, but he doesn’t have the guts to do it, so he hires someone to do it for him.

These three stories fit together. McIver brings them together and they are all interconnected. He suspects that the entity may have been Spalding Gray. Howard goes over the many ways he could kill himself and the many reasons he won’t do it. He goes to the beach and thinks about his life and his death.

Helena Bonham Carter makes an appearance in Howard’s story, as the character of Jessica and as herself in a soliloquy where she speaks about the movie Big Fish. The movie ends with the line: “A man tells a story over and over so many times he becomes the story. In that way, he is immortal.”

The play is broken up into four parts, the ocean, the sky, swimming and death and McIver tells all the stories with the use of lighting design and microphones on either side of the stage and on the table. There is a projection on the back wall that depicts what part of the story we are in, be it ‘The Ocean or ‘Swimming.’ This play is more storytelling but it draws you in and director Daniel Brooks has it moving along at a good pace. Though you might not know what’s going on all the time, you always want to know what happens next.

Who Killed Spalding Gray is a meditation on death and life and the things that make us want to end it. It takes a certain kind of courage to want to keep swimming. McIver illuminates here that sometimes you just have to keep swimming through the stories.

Daniel McIver’s Who Killed Spalding Gray is part of the High Performance Rodeo. More information is available online.

Photo Credit: Guntar Kravis

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