Tallulah
Reviewed by David Kashimba

Kathleen Turnerís excellent acting ability is the main element that keeps the play Tallulah from falling flat as a pancake. Set in actress Tallulah Bankheadís boudoir before and after a re-election party for Harry S. Truman, the play tries to be a comedy while focusing on Bankheadís excesses, particularly with alcohol and sex. It simply doesnít work. Watching the downward spiral of any human being, even a famous one, simply isnít funny.

While Turnerís energetic performance does pull quite a few laughs out of the audience (when she highlights some of Bankheadís infamous qualities), jokes about a personís out of control behavior evoke hollow, nervous laughter that quickly dissipates into an uneasy embarrassment.

The problem is that the play is written with too much emphasis on Bankheadís dark side and with trying to make that dark side funny. When author Sandra Ryan Heyward tries to bring in elements of Bankheadís fears and isolation, it just confuses the audience. Is this play suppose to be a light entertaining comedy or a very dark tragedy about a lonely lady who desperately wanted the entire world to love her but couldnít love herself with anything more than Narcissism? Unfortunately, when an audience doesnít know whether to laugh or cry they simply become frustrated.

On the positive side, however, Tallulah is a good opportunity to see a live performance by Kathleen Turner. Seeing her perform on stage, particularly in this very difficult part, will only increase the respect that Turner fans have for their favorite actress.

Tallulah is now playing at the Curran Theatre. For tickets call (415) 512-7770. For more information, including touring performance locations, call (415) 551-2000 or visit www.bestofbroadway-sf.com.

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