By Holli Harms

David Greenspan, one of our most prolific and superlative theatrical artists, is in performance at The Brick Theater performing Joey Merlo’s haunting, campy,  On Set With Theda Bara.

In this captivating performance, Greenspan plays four very distinct characters: one of them being the silent film star and vixen Theda Bara, a genderqueer teenager, their gay detective father, and a silent movie organist who played the music to the silent films of Theda Bara. All these characters become entwined in this imaginative pronounced immersion into what is reality, what is gender, what is being alive, who are we now, who have we been and who will we become growing out of what matters to us?

Greenspan captures the camp and mystery in On Set With Theda Bara as only he could through his unique performance style, illuminating the specific and airy as well as the beauty and grotesqueness of us all. He is both spritely and warrior-like in stature. Greenspan is an artist on the battlefield of a story based in an existential world. The magic of Greenspan is his medicine man spirit that transfers us from audience to participants. He tells a story in the inalienable Greenspan way where the architecture of his movements focuses as much on the texture of the words not just the meaning.

The set is a 32-foot-long narrow table with large Nuvo lights suspended down its length and covered with thick black felt. The audience is seated on both sides leaving open the two ends. David dances around the table, at times is seated at it, walks on it, and lies on it using its surface to get closer and quieter to us.

Seance-like, the voices of the four characters, at times crack out like a whip, expound, alert, warn, and declare, sometimes barely rising above a whisper as they balance their stories around the artistic atmosphere of the space.  All of this prominence of story and movement is wonderfully staged by director Jack Serio.

It was a night like no other and a performance that will not leave you for some time.

Transport Group and Lucille Lortel Theatre present,
On Set With Theda Bara,
Written by Joey Merlo, Directed by Jack Serio, and Performed by David Greenspan

Creative Team: Scenic Design: Frank J. Oliva,
Costume Design: Avery Reed,
Lighting Design: Stacey Derosier,
Sound Design: Brandon Bulls


Running Time: 65 minutes with no intermission

The Brick Auxiliary 579 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Runs Monday to Saturday through March 9, 2024