by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move
Sometimes being too clever can get you into trouble.
In playwright/showbusiness historian Jordan R. Young’s 30 minute solo play turned film, “Bela Lugosi Meets Edna St. Vincent Millay,” actress Susanne Pinedo intertwines the loosely related lives of famous people into a connected network of Page 6-style what ifs.
Partly (seemingly) influenced by actress Betty Ackerman’s desire to culminate her career in a one woman show as St. Vincent Millay, the piece takes off as a campy socio-political pseudo thriller but falls down as an artistically unconventional non-narrative.
As a series of whimsical transitions, it is difficult to follow. The focus is mainly on Legosi and Millay – their respective politics and in the case of Millay, (the early poster heroine for feminism), her highly sexual exploits, and is as chirpy as Pineda, as she happily chimes along. But neither the writing structure, the direction, nor the production illuminates a clear story. The characters and news clips become a backsplash to Pinedo’s antics on camera.
There is definitely a lot of juice in this piece, mired in genuinely delicious, nostalgic, even important old Hollywood topics like The Black List, subversion, actor exploitation and sex. Young, however, has yet to truly pull it all out.
Written by Jordan R. Young, directed by Melinda Hall, performed by Susanne Pinedo, and film production by Willful Pictures.
Photo credit: Melinda Hall