Piece Comment

Review of A Tribute to Spalding Gray

Storyteller Spalding Gray killed himself in 2004 by jumping off the Staten Island ferry. Best known for the monologue and movie "Swimming to Cambodia," this documentary focuses on the period of Gray's life after a life-threatening car accident. Using audio from his one-man performances and several personal interviews, New York City producer Jon Kalish presents a portrait of Gray's personal struggles and work, which many people believed were the same. "He questions everything and ends up more exhausted than satisfied," wrote Michael Kuchwara, the Associated Press drama critic. To do that, Gray dwelled on yesterday's troubles. "One of the hells that I suffer is that I live in the past a lot of the time," he says at one point in the documentary. The strongest moment of this piece is Kalish's conversation with Gray near the end of his life. The actor sounds unhinged as the pair stroll around the grounds of a college campus. The only downside to this doc are the time references (there's a reference to January, which might make the listener believe Gray died recently, not in 2004) and a mid-documentary reference to the radio station on which the piece originally aired.