Spy Garbo Goes Limbo-ing

3LD hosts a curious World War Two trio

Sheila Schwartz’s Spy Garbo could have been the most action-packed reunion ever—a meeting of long-lost frenemies to rival Romy and Michelle’s. Rather than high school clique-mates, Schwartz convenes some of World War II’s most infamous political backstabbers: Francisco Franco, Kim Philby (a Soviet double agent who infiltrated British intelligence) and Wilhelm Canaris (an organizer of the failed plot to assassinate Hitler).

It’d be hard to find three figures with more exciting secrets to reveal. So why does Spy Garbo, directed by Kevin Cunningham, have the dramatic quotient of a walking, talking Wikipedia entry?

Franco, Philby, and Canaris (played by Steven Rattazzi, Chad Hoeppner, and Steven Hauck) congregate in a kind of Powerpoint purgatory, pacing among screens that display vintage headlines and World War II newsreel footage. The three take turns relating tales of wartime subterfuge, jockeying for the historical spotlight—which is sometimes a literal beam that capriciously shuts off while Franco’s trying to talk. They reminisce wistfully about the titular Spy Garbo, a Spanish operative whose double-crossing exploits linked the three wheeler-dealers.

Canaris, Franco, and Philby take a leisurely look back.
Jim Baldassare
Canaris, Franco, and Philby take a leisurely look back.


Spy Garbo
By Sheila Schwartz
80 Greenwich Street
212-352-3101, 3ldnyc.org

But the mysterious Spy Garbo never materializes onstage, and neither does much theatrical urgency. Nothing seems to be at stake in the trio’s autobiographical diatribes, and despite protestations to the contrary, they’re hardly characters that history’s forgotten. Spy Garbo, on the other hand, is already fading from my mind.

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terrible and boring...poor excuse for theater but with tons of wasted money to make this no doubt!..I don't get it..How do these jokers and scam artists pull off making this junk-theater!3rd time i've given them a try but this was beyond bad! it had no life, horrid script and lacked any vision. The over-use of video is this arts-group is their claim to being "experimental" ..ugh what a sad state of affairs..The tech was pro fer sure but used like high school level theatrics for lack of real creativity. So it felt wasted and distracting, not that anything was happening anyway. 3 dead guy talking me to death..Please Stop!