The man of the title is Eldon Schweig (Byrne Piven), an obscure, bibulous poet- talker surviving squalidly in a seedy Greenwich Village hotel. Alan Gross has written a sentimental memory play in which Jerry Green (W.H. Macy), onetime temporary bellhop at the hotel and himself a would-be writer, returns to the scenes of Schweig's conversational glory and decline. A dedicated Schweig admirer, the younger man recalls how he naively tried to befriend and even rehabilitate his fallen hero -- just for the privilege of hearing Schweig's articulate ramblings.
Mr. Gross regards both the young tyro and the old souse with sympathy, and the play contains some insights about a literary life of self-destruction a la Behan or Thomas. But "The Man in 605" is little more than a transient sketch. Messrs. Piven and Green and Dick Cusack as a caustically lowbrow night clerk create a believable situation amid the littered rabbit warren of a set designed by David Emmons. Staged at the Theater de Lys by Sheldon Patinkin, the drama was originally produced and directed by Mr. Piven for the Piven Theater Workshop in Chicago. It marks the New York debut of the Chicago-based Apollo Theater Center.