Review: Tallulah Bankhead is “Looped” at Stageworks/Hudson [Berkshire on Stage]
Theater review by Roseann Cane
Tallulah Bankhead made her last film, “Die! Die! My Darling!,” in 1965. By then, the actress, more celebrated for her flamboyant personality and uncensored proclamations about her sexual appetite than for her artistry, suffered from the effects of decades of smoking (reportedly 150 cigarettes daily), drinking and reliance on cocaine, among other drugs. She died in 1968 at the age of 66.
Playwright Matthew Lombardo was inspired to write “Looped” by an event that occurred during the production of Bankhead’s final screen appearance. Because of a technical snafu, the actress was summoned to loop (re-record) one line of dialogue. The star showed up at the L.A. recording studio drunk and drug-addled, and unable – or unwilling – to retain the line. And so she held hostage the frustrated technicians as they descended into eight hours of Tallulah Land.
At Stageworks/Hudson, July 10-28, 2013, “Looped” opens as film editor Danny Miller (Michael Rhodes) seems ready to implode in frustration as he awaits the arrival of the hours-late Bankhead. Sound technician Steve (Steven Austin Young), a level up in the sound booth, takes everything in stride. He is on the clock, after all. Eventually Bankhead (Colleen Zenk) makes her grand entrance, a little wobbly in her black stilettos. She languorously unbuttons an elegant fur coat to reveal a spectacular royal purple dress.