Based on a real event, Looped is Matthew Lombardo’s imagining of the 8-hour recording session fading Hollywood star Tallulah Bankhead needed to record a dubbed line for Die! Die! My Darling! Over the course of the day her infamous ways clash with changing times and a young film editor with other issues on his mind.
You might think it would be difficult to stretch a single line out into a full day recording session but, for a seasoned performer like Tallulah (Glenda Kenyon), balancing multiple agendas is part of the job. What’s fun about working without a little mischief? Unfortunately, film editor Danny (Jordan Kenyon) and sound engineer Steve (Greg Kenyon) have been embroiled in Tallulah’s antics which, especially for Danny, means revealing some sensitive personal information for the salve of Tallulah’s hard-earned life advice.
The themes of old and new Hollywood are a romp with great physical humour from Glenda Kenyon as a constantly inebriated star. Direction from Jennifer Gilchrist is well-paced and well-balanced between the script’s tense social commentary and its hammy characterisations. Glenda plays Tallulah with an expert control of her nosy narcissism and her self-deprecating wit with sharp comic timing. Jordan as the uptight young editor has his share of zingers but it’s in the second act, after Tallulah has done her worst to wear down his smooth exterior, where a little heat adds immensely to his performance. The two have an engaging dynamic with enough strain to keep their developing relationship interesting from beginning to end. Off-stage in the sound booth, Greg as Steve doesn’t need a physical presence to garner laughs; popping in at inopportune moments with his unassuming personality to provide an amusing point of difference.
Set entirely in a drab beige sound studio, designed by Greg Kenyon, Tallulah is visually demanding in turquoise and a fur coat. Lighting design from Roger Hind and Ruth Lowry transforms the studio into a stage for Tallulah’s reveries of her heyday performing as Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire, back when her future still looked bright. These asides reveal a vulnerability underneath Tallulah’s crass exterior and lend great depth to the production’s conception of dreams, desire, hope, and regret.
Quoting one of Tallulah’s famous statements, “If I had to live my life again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner.” Looped places two strangers together, both with a regret or two, but only one has the opportunity to change their course and perhaps live the life they imagine.
Looped is running at the Guild Theatre from February 14th – March 7th