Monologuist Spalding Gray, once astutely dubbed the WASP Woody Allen, has cobbled together a remarkably long-lived career from his own neuroses. Filmmaker Jonathan Demme made an engrossing film from Swimming to Cambodia, Gray's Obie-winning account of the minor role he played in Apocalypse Now, followed by Nick Broomfield's treatment of Monster in a Box, in which Gray's attempts to write a novel (the monster of the title) are periodically interrupted by his international travels. But while filmmakers have warmed to Gray's tales, audiences haven't always been so receptive to his baldly confessional style; Gray presented a fairly unsympathetic picture of his own infidelities in the skiing-as-metaphor tale It's a Slippery Slope, and his family was apparently less than thrilled about his public recollection of playing doctor with a neighbor girl, which he described in Sex and Death at the Age of 14.
A revival of that piece, originally scheduled for Gray's return visit to the Bay Area (Slope played A.C.T. last year at this time), has been replaced with a sneak preview of Gray's new work, Morning, Noon and Night, before its official premiere next month in West Palm Beach. Gray plays questions about the larger world against scenic small-town domesticity, opening his spoken-word chronicle of fatherhood with sunrise over Whaling Church in Long Island's Sag Harbor. If that puts viewers in mind of Our Town, it's worth noting that Gray once managed a disastrous production of that show, which he comically described in Monster. Morning, Noon and Night opens at 8 p.m. (and runs through Sunday) at the Geary Theater, 415 Geary (at Mason), S.F. Admission is $15-40; call 749-2ACT.