David Greenspan and Brian Hutchison
in Go Back to Where You Are
(© Joan Marcus)
David Greenspan and Brian Hutchison
in Go Back to Where You Are
(© Joan Marcus)
Playwright and star David Greenspan's latest work, Go Back to Where You Are, at Playwrights Horizons, is a delightfully giddy show that is equal parts love story and metatheatrical exercise. Director Leigh Silverman briskly stages this 70-minute romp, which has been brought to life by a pitch-perfect cast.

Greenspan portrays Passalus, a chorus boy from Ancient Greece who has been languishing in hell as a demon for centuries, but is given a new lease on life by God (Tim Hopper), who sends him back to Earth on a mission involving a woman named Carolyn -- who is often mentioned in the play, but never appears. We never really find out why God has singled Carolyn out for special attention, but the set-up is sufficient to launch Passalus on his journey of discovery.

The bulk of the action unfolds in the seaside Long Island home of Carolyn's mother, Claire (Lisa Banes), a famous actress whose intimate circle includes brother Bernard (Brian Hutchison), son Wally (Michael Izquierdo), friend Charlotte (Mariann Mayberry), colleague Tom (Stephen Bogardus), and Tom's partner Malcolm (the dually cast Hopper) -- all of whom are in some manner or another involved in show business.

Passalus, a shapeshifter, is tasked with altering Carolyn's life, but cautioned that he should not interfere with the destinies of anyone else -- which he finds increasingly difficult as he is able to read the thoughts of those around him, and finds himself swiftly falling in love with Bernard.

Throughout the play, various characters speak asides to the audience, commenting not only on what their characters are thinking, but the mechanics of the play itself. "There is no chronology," exclaims Charlotte as the play conflates both time and space as the narrative proceeds. At another point, Claire wonders how she could have possibly forgotten to inform various guests who else would be coming to visit, to which Tom replies, "Maybe it's a problem with the writing."

Greenspan has crafted for himself a marvelously over-the-top part that showcases his comic talents, but also allows for a truly affecting portrait of grief and despair as Passalus rails against his fate at one of the play's crucial junctures. In a nice contrast, Hutchison's low-key performance is filled with meaningful pauses and awkward vocal phrasing that is incredibly endearing.

Mayberry excellently conveys Charlotte's frazzled neuroticism, while Banes is the picture of lacquered-on charm. Bogardus, Hopper, and Izquierdo's roles are the least juicy, but they all handle the demands of their parts with aplomb.