No actress ever embodied alert sophistication more notoriously than Tallulah Bankhead, born to wealth and privilege, who kept the free spirit of the 1920s alive, along with its self-destructive streak, till the combination of the two had worn out both her career and her body. Tallulah never did things by halves, and Valerie Harper, embodying her in a klutzy excuse for a play called Looped, attains theatrical grace by emulating, triumphantly, Bankhead's will to exceed. Matthew Lombardo's script and Rob Ruggiero's direction supply no real sense of Bankhead's art, wit, politics, or personality, but the piled-up wisecracks and anecdotes, when zinged by Harper with immaculately nuanced ferocity, magically summon the Bankhead spirit.

A little pre-coma Chinese: Corman, Breen, and Heusinger in Next Fall
Carol Rosegg
A little pre-coma Chinese: Corman, Breen, and Heusinger in Next Fall

Details

Next Fall
By Geoffrey Nauffts
Helen Hayes Theatre
240 West 44th Street, 212-239-6200

The Book of Grace
By Suzan-Lori Parks
Public Theater
425 Lafayette Street, 212-967-7555

Looped
By Matthew Lombardo
Lyceum Theatre
149 West 45th Street, 212-239-6200

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