Looped: When Self-Love & Loathing Are The Same
We are lucky to live in a city where local, small theater is still a viable thing. Sure, the larger-than-life Broadway productions are grand, but shows with an intimate gathering feel like there’s a more personal lesson to be learned. This is especially true with the recent Triangle Productions show of “Looped.”
Looped is directed by Don Horn, written by Matthew Lombardo, and features the multi-talented ever-endearing Margie Boule as the Hollywood film and stage actress Tallulah Bankhead. I wasn’t sure what to expect from a three-person show. But the simplicity of the cast, the set, is what enabled the raw brilliance of the script dialog, and Margie’s heart-felt connection to this complicated self-deprecating character, to shine through.
Tallulah was known for being the actress initially chosen to play Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind but then lost the part to Vivian Leigh. Leigh, incidentally, also got the part of the title role in a play written for Tallulah by her then friend Tennessee Williams, Street Car Named Desire.
Tallulah became a reigning queen of theater on Broadway and in London, and aside from stage performance, was an equally theatrical hard-partying, booze guzzling, talk of the town. Though this erratic behavior and rough-edged persona became part of her legacy, (Tallulah died in 1968 at the age of 66) Looped both subtly and outwardly pulls back the curtains a little more to reveal the depth of her sadness, guilt, talent and compassion. And, I must say, Margie was simply mind-blowingly incredible to bring forward all the layers of what becomes from an intricate labyrinth of simultaneous self-love and self-loathing; confidence and doubt; compassion and self-absorption; strength and vulnerability…. These opposing forces were what haunted Tallulah and drove her to a life of avoiding pain, and yet, at the same time, creating it.
I’ve seen some of Margie’s work over the years, and to me, this was my favorite performance. I was blown away by how Margie was completely transformed, by how spot-on the range of emotions were conveyed in such a way you could read between the pause of each line, all the tragedy and comedy of Tallulah’s life. That is some serious talent.
Maybe having the emotional wind sucked out of me after the play was over came from the beauty of the story, and true history–Looped‘s script was taken from transcripts from an actual 8-hour recording session toward the end of Tallulah’s life, thus the name–or the fact we can all relate to Tallulah’s notion of regret and freeing ourselves from guilt to face a more fearless future. Maybe it was the story subtext that nobody is really who they seem to be, especially upon first impressions, and before we become a judge and jury, perhaps we best take a look at ourselves.
I will mention here, too, that Margie’s co-star, David Sargent, was also very compelling as the counter-part character of film editor, Danny Miller, who spent the eight hours during a sound editing session trying to get the inebriated Tallulah to dub a single line. We learn about Tallulah through Danny, and his struggles, and Danny’s character provides some cool contemplation to Tallulah’s fiery fight. David gave the perfect performance balance.
Looped, (subtitled “a comedy about a fading star”) was the most intimate 100 minutes in a play I’ve spent in a long time. A few days later, I’m still thinking about Tallulah’s tragic, poignant persona, about Margie’s unbelievable gifts and kick-ass performance, about the importance of local theater, the gratitude I have for people like Don Horn who believe in keeping powerful story alive, and how I hope small theater always remains supported to deliver needed reflections about our own lives.
Thank you Margie, Don, David, James and the rest of Triangle Productions for a heart-arresting story about the beautiful lessons received from braving the shame of self-loathing, through to accepting the brighter, kinder aspects of self-love.
Looped performances are evenings, Thursdays through Saturdays, until September 26th, with one Sunday matinee performance left on the 20th. For more background, theater location and ticket information, visit www.trianglepro.org/looped .