Men like to be alone sometimes, women need listening to. Men drink milk from the bottle, women love to shop. “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” and author/seminar hustler John Gray are from some black hole of gravity-sucking banality. Bringing his relentlessly chirpy self-help infomercial to a one-week stand at Broad-way’s Gershwin Theater, Gray — Dr. Gray, we’re told repeatedly — couldn’t have chosen a less appropriate venue for his feel-good shtick, or a place better suited to showcasing the insipid nature of his universe. The good doctor would be well-advised to book a conference room at the local Marriott next time around.
It’s not that Gray, a marriage counselor for 25 years, isn’t amiable enough. In fact, he couldn’t be more amiable if he were hawking ab-busters on the upper reaches of your cable dial, but four years on the New York Times best-sellers list, gazillions of book sales and a $55 top ticket price must carry some responsibility to come up with at least one original insight. At the outset of his show, Gray says, “Take some time to breathe in some new aware-ness,” but beyond the Mars/Venus metaphor that’s made him a rich man Gray offers nothing that hasn’t been put to better use in untold numbers of stand-up comedy routines. If this is what it takes to get a Ph.D., every hack at the local Giggle Factory should get Dr. billing.
Gray’s universe is one of endless bromides and generalities. Women, or Venusians, “come from a place that enor-mously values relationships.” “Venusians love to discover.” “Women use communication as a way of getting in touch with what’s inside.” Men, or Martians, “communicate to solve a problem.” “Martians don’t cope with stress by sharing.” “You can’t kill passion, you can only put it to sleep.”
Aside from some half-hearted attempts at science (hormones play a role in gender differences, he says) Gray em-ploys the Daily Horoscope brand of psycho-babble: Speak in generalities so vague that they’ll apply to the largest number of people. And judging by his fans in attendance (mostly young couples and groups of women nudging one another and mouthing “That’s so true”), the tactic seems to work, for some anyway.
Set (tech credits are unlisted) is in keeping with the TV infomercial ambiance, and the sound system at least was sharp enough to pick up Gray’s non-stop brushing and bumping of his body mike. “What the world needs today is love,” Gray says at the close of his show. What “Mars” needs would fill the skies.