The Burton Taylor Affair
A Play, A Pie and A Pint
Oran Mor, Glasgow
30th October – 4th November
Script: Stagecraft: Performance:
A huge photographic portrait of a movie star with arched eyebrows, hooded eyes and sultry lips dominates the stage. Either side of the framed picture, luxurious swathes of golden drapes glitter but little else does, in this disappointing drama by Steven Elliot featuring a reminiscing, Richard Burton (Dewi Rhys Williams) and Elizabeth Taylor (Vivien Reid). Comparisons of the couples earnings, Oscar nominations, and capacity for alcohol are ping-ponged back and forward with little conflagration, while lengthy quotes from Shakespeare and Marlow, used to illustrate their tempestuous on screen/off screen relationship, offer the best of what little chemistry the actors have.
The female movie star seems far too young to hold her own, in a verbal joust with the mature stage actor and one wonders if Williams is reluctant to let loose the throaty Welsh grit of the full-Burton voice, for fear of extinguishing Reid’s lacklustre Taylor completely. This is a story that requires something a bit special to intrigue an audience familiar with the antics of a real-life married twosome they have seen on screen and in all probability, as characters portrayed by other actors. The play and cast deliver a muted, far from legendary, piece of theatre.