Monday, March 15, 2010

Theater Review: Looped

A Loopy Lady and a Very Funny Play
By Lauren Yarger
A 1965 LA recording session from hell is the setting for Looped, playwright Matthew Lombardo’s laugh-a-minute Broadway debut about the outrageous and larger-than-life screen actress Tallulah Bankhead, played with depth and gusto by Valerie Harper.

It seems that the audio from one of Tallulah’s lines in the film, “Die! Die! My Darling,” must be re-recorded (or looped) before the film can be released. It’s up to film editor Danny (Brian Hutchinson) and sound engineer Steve (Michael Mulheren) to make it happen, but that’s easier said than done.

Tallulah, a little looped herself, shows up under the influence and demanding a drink. What ensues is a hilarious battle of the wills between the brazen Tallulah and the uncomfortably uptight Danny with Steve staying out of sight as much as possible in his second-story sound booth (Adrian W. Jones, set design).

Tallulah, known for her promiscuity and sexual escapades (with both sexes) stops belting back drinks and snorting cocaine only long enough to unleash a torrent of sexually-charged, raunchily funny dialogue that unnerves Danny, who feels her remarks and behavior are inappropriate for the work environment (and perhaps for any environment . . .)

They take a break after numerous, hilarious failed attempts to record the ridiculous line, “And so Patricia, as I was telling you, that deluded rector has, in literal effect, closed the church to me.” When they return, the real drama begins.

Amidst the humor, Lombardo’s play and Harper’s engrossing performance also reveal the Tallulah beneath the surface: a very sad, lonely woman who forces herself to keep up the pretense of the over-the-top free spirit who externally would appear not to care what people think, or to be concerned that the doctors have told her she might not have long to live.

Danny sees through the act, though, and accuses Tallulah of using drugs and alcohol to avoid reality. Not to be outdone Tallulah zeros in on Danny’s most vulnerable spot – and the secrets behind why he married his wife. Lombardo gets applause for writing one of the most plausible “two strangers meet and share their most intimate thoughts” scene in a play and the two unlikely comrades find that they might not be so different after all.

Harper, directed by Rob Ruggiero, throws herself into the part and into the trademark “daaahhhling” type of speech made famous by Tallulah who inspired the creation of the characters Blanche duBois and Cruella de Ville, among others. Harper imbues Tallulah with a vulnerable and feminine depth that makes her more likable and human in the face of the onslaught of vulgarity. Her obnoxiously loud, over-the-top-laugh seems to embody all of the emotions ever felt by this woman and makes you want to laugh and cry at the same time.

Looped plays through April 11 at the Lyceum Theater, 149 W. 42nd St., NYC. Tickets are available by calling (212) 239-6200 or (800) 432-7250.

Christians might also like to know:
• Language
• Sexually explicit dialogue
• Lord’s name taken in vain
• Drug use
• Bisexuality mentioned
• Show posts a Mature rating

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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