You would think a backstage encounter between silent film star Gloria Swanson and Broadway legend Tallulah Bankhead would make for a marvelous play, Daaaahling. But you would be wrong with the show currently performing as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival. Playwright/director Octavio Carlin gave free rein to his imagination while writing Hollywood and Broadway about a 1951 real life encounter between the two aging divas at a New York awards ceremony. Swanson was coming off the great success of her return to the big screen in Sunset Boulevard and her loss of the Oscar while Bankhead was reduced to a weekly radio interview show after all her great stage roles seemed to be filmed with Bette Davis. Instead of a great verbal gobsmack of an encounter, Carlin has contrived a name-dropping jewel heist caper. It was probably just as embarrassing for the performers as for the audience at the performance I attended. The best things on stage were the costumes also designed by Carlin.
Hudson Guild, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd. in Hollywood. June 21, 23. www.hollywoodfringe.org