Review: The Burton Taylor Affair



Photo: Leslie Black

Elizabeth Taylor’s imposing portrait (or rather, a mocking-up of one) dominates the space in Steven Elliot’s debut play for PPP, a rumination on the Hollywood hotheads with the explosive relationship, English rose with thorns Elizabeth Taylor and bluff Welshman Richard Burton. This is clearly symbolic of the domination of the great beauty, who outstripped Burton’s achievements at every turn, by winning Oscars and newspaper headlines alike.

Sadly, more akin to a Wikipedia entry than absorbing script, it falls at the first hurdle, by not imbuing any volatility or dramatic tension to either. Vivien Reid and Dewi Rhys Williams are fine, but there is little sense of time or place in the script, nor a real portrayal of who they both are, above and beyond the showbiz legends, and the well-documented penchant for sex and liquor.



Photo: Leslie Black



Burton is consistently condescending, referring to his violet eyed sparring partner as ‘Miss Tits’ and ranting about his misunderstood genius; Taylor simply simpers, rolls her eyes, and calls him ‘Taffy’ as she pours another drink. A potted history of their love affair and respective careers ensues. Padded out with lines from Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew et al, it’s just not enough to carry a half hour. A real pity, as these two giants of stage and screen deserve so, so much more. Pass the Bourbon.


(Lorna Irvine)

A co-production between Oran Mor and Sherman Theatre,Wales




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