HOT EVENTS MGT MAGAZINE VISITING ARCHIVE MGT PARTNERS MGT TEAM
My Gay Toronto - MGT Stage

Who Killed Spalding Gray? Daniel MacIvor and the deceptive art of storytelling


by Drew Rowsome
- Production photos by Guntar Kravish

"One can't be a liar if they are a storyteller," says Daniel MacIvor, blatantly lying. But by that point in Who Killed Spalding Gray? the audience is so mesmerized and discombobulated that we believe him. Along with all his other lies. Or perhaps truths.

MacIvor has a string of plays - His GreatnessThe Best BrothersA Beautiful ViewArigato TokyoCake and Dirt - that have haunted Toronto's stage in the last few years, but before then he was known for his extraordinary one-man shows including HouseHere Lies HenryMonster and Cul-de-Sac. The one-man shows were powerful enough that when he retired his company, da da kamera, with a celebratory farewell season at Buddies in Bad Times, it was a theatrical event not soon to be rivalled. Fortunately he has not abandoned the monologue form and Who Killed Spalding Gray? is a worthy addition to the canon. 

Artists don't work in vacuums and MacIvor acknowledges his influences, co-opts them, quotes them, and playfully deflates them. Not only Spalding Gray, the master of storytelling monologues, but also Tim Burton who uses film, Laurie Anderson and David Byrne who use multi-media and music, but also MacIvor's former works are lauded and vivisected. MacIvor casually ambles on stage and begins a conversational dialogue with a random audience member that appears spontaneous. Perhaps it is (even though it echoes throughout the evening in a haunting way). The point is made that the audience has come to experience a play but MacIvor is going to play with that experience.

MacIvor tells a personal story of psychic surgery, tells a Spalding Gray-esque story, impersonates Helena Bonham Carter, offers commentary, and calls attention to the theatricality by pausing before every dramatic lighting effect. He and his cohorts, director Daniel Brooks and lighting designer Kimberly Purtell, are too skilled for this not to be deliberate. They are emphasizing the fourth wall, the artifice, and therefore telling us the truth. By lying. Who Killed Spalding Gray? is a puzzle designed by an unreliable narrator and presented as fact, or maybe not. Either MacIvor is comfortable putting himself exposed on stage, or he is a brilliant actor playing Daniel MacIvor, as well as the rest of the characters. I suspect the latter.

The multiples threads, all fascinating, some eerie and disturbing, some comic, slowly twine together and tighten into a non-conclusive conclusion. The final moment, the last dramatic flourish, having been telegraphed, falls a little flat, but that may also have been just the silence of an audience stunned into submission. There is a lot to process, a lot of dots to connect, and the sudden realization that while MacIvor has been entertaining and chatting with a faux-casualness, ideas and imagery have been planted deep into our souls.

MacIvor explicitly tells us that "It's not your fault," then indicts us. Chews over why it is easier for him to confess to a crack addiction than to an addiction to romance. Book covers lead to a series of coincidences that just might be a master plan. He lies, cajoles and gets at some deep truths. Who Killed Spalding Gray? is dizzying, puzzling, spellbinding and quite possibly a crock of shit, or maybe gold. MacIvor may be a liar but he is one extraordinary storyteller.

Who Killed Spalding Gray? continues until Sun, Dec 11 at the Berkeley Street Theatre, 26 Berkeley St. canadianstage.com 


6

RELATED ARTICLES / ARCHIVE:
- Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time: metaphor made into theatrical magic - Oct - '17
- Review: Flashing Lights: fable and art - Oct - '17
- Review: Undercover - Sep - '17
- Review: North by Northwest: a giddy delirious thriller - Sep - '17
- Review: Turtleneck: sex, violence, porn and red hot hilarity - Sep - '17
- Review: Hedwig and the Angry Inch: escaping the dungeon of gender, Hart House and rock n roll - Sep - '17
- Review: The Seat Next to the King: gay interracial sex is more powerful than fear - Sep - '17
- Review: Volta: the magic of the circus thrives - Sep - '17
- Review: Pippi - Aug - '17
- Review: Permanence - Jul - '17
- Review: King Lear - Jul - '17
- Review: Cavalia - Jul - '17
- Review: Beautiful - Jul - '17
- Review: 8 Morro & Jasp In Stupefaction - Jun - '17
- Review: The Lavender Railroad - Jun - '17
- Review: Showstopper - Jun - '17
- Review: Youth/Elder Project- Jun - '17
- Review: Situational Anarchy- May - '17
- Review: It's All Tru!- May - '17
- Review: The Return (il ritorno): Circa ...- May - '17
- Review: Midsummer (a play with songs)...- May - '17
- Review: Prince Hamlet - Apr '17
- Review: 887: memory becomes extraordinary - Apr '17
- Review: Little Pretty and The Exceptionals - Apr '17
- Review: Jack Charles v The Crown - Apr '17
- Review: A Kiss with a vicious bite - Mar '17
- Review: Souzatzka - Mar '17
- Review: Mrs Henderson Presents - Mar '17
- Review: Blood Weddings - Mar '17
- Review: Book Of Mormon - Mar '17
- Review: Cirkopolis - Mar '17
- Review: The Bodyguard - Feb '17
- Review: Five Faces for Evelyn Frost - Feb '17
- Review: My Night with Reg - Feb '17
- Review: Blue Remembered Hills - Feb '17
- The 38th Rhubarb Festival - Feb '17
- Review: James and the Giant Peach - Feb '17
- Review: Carrie - Jan '17
- Review: Audience - Jan '17
- Review: Sisters Act - Dec '16
- Review: Who Killed Spalding Gray? - Dec '16
- Review: Swan - Nov '16
- Review: Cuisine & Confessions - Nov '16
- Review: The (Post) Mistress - Oct '16
- Review: The Circle: the kids are not alright - Oct '16
- Review: Birdtown and Swanville - Oct '16
- Review: Late Night - Oct '16
- Review: Concord Floral - Oct '16
- Review: Blind Date - Sep '16
- Review: Pearle Harbour - Sep '16
- Review: West Side Story - Aug '16
- Review: Chippendales - Aug '16
- Review: Mr Shi and His Lover - Aug '16
- Review: Tomorrow's Child, NO FUN - Aug '16
- Review: Thank You For Being A Friend - Aug '16
- Review: Luzia - Jul '16
- Review: Peter and the Starcatcher - Jul '16
- Review: Shakespeare in High Park II - Jul '16
- Review: Shakespeare in High Park I - Jul '16
- Review: Bright Lights - Jul '16
- Review: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat - Jun '16
- Review: Forever Plaid - May '16
- Review: A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder - May '16
- Review: The Closet - May '16
- Review: Mousetrap - May '16
- Review: Botticelli in the Fire & Sunday in Sodom - May '16
- Review: Anne of Green Gables - Apr '16
- Review: Scarberia - Apr '16
- Review: If-Then - Apr '16
- Review: The Wizard of Oz - Apr '16
- Review: The Terrible Parents - Apr '16
- Review: The Judas Kiss - Mar '16
- Review: The Crackwalker - Mar '16
- Review: No Strings (Attached) - Mar '16
- Review: Gertrude and Alice - Mar '16
- Review: Line In Sand - Mar '16
- Review: Boeing Boeing - Feb '16
- Review: Salt-Water Moon - Feb '16
- Review: Contempt - Feb '16
- Review: Anything Goes - Feb '16
- Review: Mustard - Feb '16
- Review: Into The Woods - Jan '16
- Review: Heart Of Steal - Jan '16
- Review: Toruk - Jan '16
- Review: The Gay Heritage Project - Jan '16
- Review: Elizabeth - Darcy - Dec '15
- Review: Peter Pan in Wonderland - Dec '15
- Review: Cinderella - Dec '15
- Review: Mombay Black - Nov '15
- Review: Paradise Lost - Nov '15
- Review: Wormwood - Nov '15
- Review: Banana Boys - Nov '15
- Review: Legally Blonde - Oct '15
- Review: The Baby - Oct '15
- Review: An Enemy of the People - Oct '15
- Review: They Say He Fell - Oct '15
- Review: Buddy Holly - Oct '15
- Review: Seance - Sep '15
- Review: Like A Generation - Sep '15
- Review: 20th November - Sep '15
- Review: Empire - Sep '15
- Review: Big Plans - Sep '15
- Review: The Marquise of O - Aug '15
- Review: An Evening in July - Aug '15
- Review: Love + Hate - Aug '15
- Review: MacArthur Park Suite - Aug '15
- Review: Obeah - Aug '15
- Review: Mary Poppins - Jul '15
- Review: Julius Caesar... - Jul '15
- Review: Gimme Shelter - Jul '15
- Review: Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea - Jul '15
- Review: Superhero - Jul '15
- Review: Kinki Boots - Jul '15
- Review: First Time Last Time - Jun '15
- Review: The Love Crimes of Frances Lark - Jun '15
- Review: Ballad of the Burning Star - May '15
- Review: Mr Burns - May '15
- Review: Morro and Jasp - May '15
- Review: American Idiot - May '15
- Review: Liver - May '15
- Review: Sweeney Todd - May '15
- Review: Tom at the Farm - Apr '15
- Review: Ubu and the Truth Commission - Apr '15
- Review: HairSpray - Apr '15
- Nature of the Beast purrs and bites - Mar '15
- Review: The Daisy Theatre - Mar '15
- Review: Dinner with Casey - Mar '15
- Review: Cake and Dirt - Mar '15
- Review: Faulty Towers - Mar '15
- Review: Brain Food - Mar '15
- Cake and Dirt - Mar '15
- This is for You, Anna - Mar '15
- Cannibal - Feb '15
- Spring Awakening is on the verge of blossoming - Feb '15
- Jesus Christ Superstar / Heart House - Jan '15
- Waiting Room - Jan '15
- Review: Jesus Christ Superstar - Dec '14
- Sharron and George’s Christmas Sing-A-Long - Dec '14
- Jesus Christ Superstar - Dec '14
- Review: A Christmas Carol - Dec '14
- Review: Cinderella - Nov '14
- Review: Metropolitan Operas - Nov '14
- Review: Sextet - Nov '14
- Review: Opus - Nov '14
- Review: Take Me Back To Jefferson - Nov '14
- Review: Evil Dead - Nov '14
- Review: The Art of Building a Bunker - Oct '14
- Review: Brotherhood - Oct '14
- Review: Femme Playlist - Oct '14
- The Hip Hopera - Oct '14
- Review: The Importance of Being Earnest- Sep '14
- Review: Freda And Jem- Sep '14
- Review: Hedwig- Sep '14
- Hair - Sep '14
- Summerworks - Aug '14
- Queers Bathroom Stories - Jun '14
- SpeakEasy - Jun '14
- Sharron Matthews and Gavin Crawford... - May '14
- Hackerlove & The Mystery of Edwin Drood - May '14
- Review: Headwig - May '14
- Headwig - Apr '14
- Review: Sound Of Music - Apr '14
- Review: Cock - Apr '14
- Review: 50 Shades - Apr '14
- Review: Me Talking to Myself...- Mar '14
- Review: Elegies - Mar '14
- Review: Marry Me a Little - Mar '14
- Review: Goodnight Desdemona... - Mar '14
- Review: A Beautiful View - Mar '14
- Review: Same Same but Different - Feb '14
- Review: Shrew - Feb '14
- Review: Genesis & Other - Feb '14
- Firebrand: When history burns - Feb '14
- Review: Heartbeat of Home - Feb '14
- Review: Cabaret - Feb '14
- Review: London Road - Jan '14
- Review: Once Upon This Island - Jan '14
- Review: The Way Back to Thursday - Jan '14
- Review: Manon, Sandra... - Jan '14
- Wedding Singer - Jan '14
- Manon, Sandra and the Virgin Mary - Jan '14
- Little Shop of Horrors - Dec '13
- Fear of commitment, but... - Dec '13
- A big splash of holiday cheer - Nov '13
- Needles And Opium - Nov '13
- Gay Heritage Project - Nov '13
- There Is No Lock... - Nov '13
- Sensual thrills in the dark - Nov '13
- No safe word - Nov '13
- Demoniacally delightful song and dance and gore - Nov '13
- Vampires, Judaism and wicked fun with grief - Oct '13
- We all love Lucy - Oct '13
- Freak Flags Conquer - Oct '13
- A Visitation from Aphrodite - Oct '13
- A Comic Tail of Staggering Genius - Sep '13
- We're All Pigs - Sep '13
- Abnormally intimate - Sep '13
- Men Behind Bars - Sep '13
- Lighting up the dark - Aug '13
- Double duty, a foursome and puppets - Aug '13
- Upton Abbey - Aug '13
- Sunny with 100 chance of puppets - Jul '13
- Review: Macbeth at Shakespeare in High Park - Jul '13
- Review: Class Dismissed - Jul '13
- Review: Avenue Q - Jul '13
- Review: Cats - Jun '13
- Review: Happiness returns - May '13
- Review: The Bone House - May '13
- Review: Of a Monstrous Child - May '13
- Stopheart - May '13
- Of a Monstrous Child - Apr '13
- Race - Mar '13
- Dancing With Rage - Mar '13
- Romeo and Juliet - Feb '13
- 35th RHUBARB & Japanese high-tech theatre - Jan '13
- Wizard Of Oz - Dec '12
- Tchaikovsky Spectacular - Nov '12
- La Cage Aux Folles - Oct '12
- Pilitical Mother - Sep '12
- Midsummer Night's Dream - Aug '12
- Fringe Festival - Jul '12
- Festival For Community - Jun '12
- Cavalia Odysseo - May '12
- Amy & Freddy - May '12
- The Game of Love and Chance - Apr '12
- My Granny The GoldFish - Mar '12
- Zeo Hour - Mar '12
- 33rd Rhubarb Festival - Feb '12
- Cabaret - Jan '12
- American Idiot - Jan '12
- The Nutcracker - Dec '11
- Mary Poppins - Nov '11
- Romeo And Juliet - Nov '11
- The Normal Heart - Oct '11
- Another Africa - Sep '11
- Singing Strong & The Maids - Aug '11
- The Glass Menagerie - Jul '11
- Operation Impervious - Jul '11
- Toronto Jazz Festival - Jun '11
- TRIGGER Festival - Jun '11
- Jesus Christ Superstar - Jun '11
- TIGTROPHE - May '11
- AGOKWE - Apr '11
- The Best Man - Mar '11
- SPIN - Mar '11
- Billy Elliot - Jan '11