Emmy Award-winning Letterman writer Ted Greenberg takes us back to December 18, 1987 in his taxi cab -- a pivotal moment in the young Harvard student’s life. It’s the nine-year anniversary of his overdue paper on Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene. It’s not that it’s taken him nine years to write a paper, it’s just that other things kept getting in the way: college life, drinking, philosophizing, pontificating, and being the son of Wall Street heavy Alan Courtney "Ace" Greenberg, the Chairman of the Executive Committee of The Bear Stearns Companies, Inc.
Written and performed by Ted Greenberg, Ace is now showing at The Marjorie S. Deane Theater. Greenberg holds his own in this superbly written one-man show full of first-hand accounts and inside peaks into the financial goings-on in New York City at that time. He presents us with the premise of his predicament: turn the paper in by midnight or lose his chance to graduate from Harvard. Sounds simple enough. Just write the paper, Ted. But there’s other important factors to consider. His side-job as a taxi driver has also instilled in him the passionate goal to break the NYC cabbies’ record of 50 fares in one day. Challenge accepted. Focus diverted. Time running out.
The fact that The Faerie Queene was an uncompleted poem and Spenser’s defining work, garnishing him favor with Queen Elizabeth I is not lost, and is indeed a beautiful and clever subtext to Greenberg’s own situation.
Greenberg’s performance as an actor is not exactly up to the standard one would expect from an Off-Broadway show. On the face of it, the wiser choice would be to simply hand over this excellent and well thought out script to a more skilled and experienced actor. But there is an undeniable enthusiasm from audiences who flock to see this show – the attraction of a first-hand account and inside information and back-story to a climactic and important New York-specific financial era being delivered by the actual guy whose father was “Ace”. It is for this inside factor as well as Greenberg’s performance experience as a stand-up comedian and genuine likability and charisma that lets us readily forgive him for anything he might lack in the acting department.
Greenberg captivates his audience and has us hanging on his every word. One needs to be hanging tight, lest we miss the quick side barbs and local inside-jokes and references that spout quickly in this highly entertaining narrative.
Director Elizabeth Margid has worked her magic in filling a whole stage with just one man and just one prop. There is good energy and appropriately timed pace that enthralls us from start to finish.
Ted Greenberg’s Ace will take you on a trip you won’t forget, and a view of NYC you very likely didn’t know about. Get in. Buckle up. Enjoy the ride.