After toiling in relative obscurity as one of the more creative forces in American theatre, helmer Andre Gregory’s appearance in the landmark 1981 Louis Malle feature, “My Dinner With Andre,” thrust Gregory into worldwide prominence. During an intimate lecture/play reading, the always-erudite Gregory addresses the aftermath of the Malle film as well as offering a tantalizing introduction of a new play, “Bone Songs,” read in the company of thesps Julie Hagerty and Leslie Silva.
Seated at a long table, scripts in hand, Gregory, Hagerty and Silva offer a casual reading of “Bone Songs,” a play in verse, inspired by the marriage to and death of Gregory’s wife of 33 years to cancer. Work offers a haunting glimpse into the bombardment of rage and sorrow that two people can inflict on each other while still exuding a depthless commitment of love.
Hagerty, who has demonstrated her comedic prowess in the classic “Airplane!” films as well as Albert Brooks’ “Lost in America,” offers an understated but deeply effective portrayal of a woman who wars bitterly against any betrayal, whether it be from her body or her husband. Silva matches her perfectly, exuding the guilt and resentment of a helpless bystander to his wife’s mortal desertion of him.
Gregory, who weaves himself in and out of the reading, interrupts the proceedings intermittently to offer freewheeling anecdotes on a number of subjects, commenting, “I wrote the play. I can do anything I want.” Recalling how he got into theater rather than following his youthful desire to be a poet, Gregory recounts a preteen crush that led to a barrage of poems to a young lady that resulted in him being attacked by the girl’s father.
Particularly fascinating is Gregory’s recollections of growing up in Los Angeles and his family’s friendships with many European expatriate celebrities.