There have been solo performers since at least the ancient Greeks: it’s likely Homer delivered his epics himself. But today no one has done more to popularize the form than Spalding Gray. His autobiographical narratives–about growing up in a Christian Science family, living in boho New York in the early 80s, or killing time on the set of The Killing Fields–have inspired hundreds of imitators, all anxious to tell the stories of their lives for fun and profit. Yet few have attained Gray’s astounding willingness to reveal all–all his flaws, fears, and hidden feelings. Recently Gray has abandoned his exotic experiments with religion, drugs, sex, and New Age medicine for the more domestic world of fatherhood and middle-class life in a safe, very Waspy corner of America. His last show, It’s a Slippery Slope, devoted as much time to the joys of skiing in Vermont as he once spent on the delights of a tantric yoga retreat in India. Call it Gray’s descent into respectability: whatever, his most recent work continues the trend. Consciously modeled on four literary sources–Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood, James Joyce’s Ulysses, and Thornton Wilder’s Our Town–Morning, Noon and Night recounts a typical day in Gray’s life in Sag Harbor, New York. Reading the recently published text, I found myself once again admiring Gray’s candor: no other bohemian would dare to embrace so wholeheartedly and publicly the mainstream life. But I also missed the old Gray and the undercurrent of self-criticism that gave spice to his work. Goodman Theatre, 200 S. Columbus, 312-443-3800. Preview Tuesday, September 7, 7:30 PM. $26. Opens Wednesday, September 8, 7:30 PM. Through September 12: Thursday, 7:30 PM; Friday-Saturday, 8 PM; Sunday, 2 PM. $26-$32. Note: Thursday’s performance is a benefit sponsored by the Goodman Theatre Discovery Board. Benefit tickets are $80-$150; for benefit information, call 312-435-2771. –Jack Helbig

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Noah L. Greenburg.