Seat Filler: NYC Theater Guide for March 2010
BY Brandon Voss
March 29 2010 2:10 PM ET
It’s fitting that Rhoda’s Valerie Harper, whom Vito Russo interviewed for The Advocate in 1976, should brighten Broadway as gay icon Tallulah Bankhead. In Matthew Lombardo’s lightweight Looped at the Lyceum Theatre, Bankhead boozes and bullies around a soundstage for hours in 1965 as she tries to dub one line in what would be her final film, Die! Die! My Darling! It’s mostly like watching a Joan Rivers stand-up act if Joan were a promiscuous lush, but I love when the set morphs into the Coconut Grove Playhouse, where Bankhead tragically camped up her Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire. Bankhead’s bisexuality is also addressed — she calls Joan Crawford a lousy lay because “she kept getting out of bed to beat the children” — but I could’ve done without Brian Hutchinson as her tortured, sweaty, self-loathing gay film editor.
No limbs are lost in A Behanding in Spokane, but Martin McDonagh’s black comedy, which runs through June 6 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, does start with a literal and proverbial bang. Christopher Walken does his best Walken impression as Carmichael, an oddball obsessed with finding his long-severed hand, but the ensuing madness never quite matches the magic of watching Walken slowly rise from a seedy motel-room bed to fire his gun into a noisy closet. As for special gay interest? Well, before the N-word becomes his bullet of choice, Carmichael repeatedly calls his crying captive (The Hurt Locker’s Anthony Mackie) a “fag.” Sam Rockwell, who plays the front desk manager, later delivers a random front-of-curtain monologue about bravery and saving lesbians. It’s all a bit offensive, but their ignorance can be bliss.