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BWW Review: CALL ME ELIZABETH at Youngstown Playhouse

Production streams March 19-28, 2021

BWW Review: CALL ME ELIZABETH at Youngstown Playhouse

Call Me Elizabeth, which was recently streamed by Youngstown Playhouse, is a solo performance piece about the early life of Elizabeth Taylor. It was written by Kayla Boye and is set in May 1961.

The play is inspired by Taylor's conversations with her biographer Mac Lerner at The Beverly Hills Hotel where Taylor rediscovers her sense of self following her 1961 Academy Awards triumph and recovery from a nearly fatal battle with pneumonia.

The play examines Taylor's career, life, and loves, chronicling her survival in the face of adversity and tragedy, many marriages, child-star to Hollywood sex symbol. It illuminates her compassion that inspired her later activism in the fight against HIV/AIDS, homophobia and mental health. A fight probably by her close friendships with closeted and troubled actors, including Rock Hudson, Roddy McDowall, Montgomery Cliff and James Dean.

Kayla Boye, who stars in the Youngstown Playhouse production states, "Like so many, I have long been fascinated with Elizabeth Taylor, a pop culture icon who continues to captivate. In her youth, Taylor epitomized movie stardom, later becoming associated with her fabulous jewels, her popular perfumes, and her activism in the fight against HIV/AIDS. But what is the story behind the image? How does a star develop into a legend, and how does that legacy sustain itself? With Call Me Elizabeth, I hope to pay tribute to the life of this extraordinary woman by exploring how the strength of her character enabled her to break barriers with unshakable bravery-and with signature style."

As is the case with one-performer shows, there is little action. This means the script has to hold the intrigue and excitement to grab and hold the audience's attention.

Though the material is interesting, there is little drama, little unexpected, few "oh-ho" moments, no humor to break the conversational monotone, and an over-abundance of pauses to fill the glass and drink champagne.

In spite of a well nuanced performance by Boye, who has a remarkable resemblance to Taylor, minus the violet eyes and kittenish voice, the outcome is acceptable, but unspectacular.

Capsule judgment: "Call Me Elizabeth" is a solo-performance play which gives a snapshot view of the complex Elizabeth Taylor, who rose to lasting fame growing from a child actress to complex adult, to captivate the attention of fan magazines and an adoring public. The script gets a solid on-line production at Youngstown Playhouse.

Unfortunately, the streamed production has concluded its run.


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