“Call Me Elizabeth” 

A NoHo Arts theatre review of “Call Me Elizabeth,” written and performed by Kayla Boye, and directed by Erin Kraft at this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival.
A NoHo Arts theatre review of “Call Me Elizabeth,” written and performed by Kayla Boye, and directed by Erin Kraft at this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival.

A NoHo Arts theatre review of “Call Me Elizabeth,” written and performed by Kayla Boye, and directed by Erin Kraft at this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival

“Call Me Elizabeth” is an absolutely flawless play. An hour spent with the beautiful and charming Elizabeth Taylor in her Beverly Hills Hotel suite in 1961, as she opens up to her prospective biographer about her life so far. This is before her love affair with Richard Burton, while she was still married to Eddie Fisher. The play begins after Eddie leaves to fly to Vegas for a concert, although his calls interrupt her conversation many times during the time we spend with her. We can surely see the writing on the wall! 

Kayla Boye has created a time machine of sorts. A window on another era, a peek behind a very private curtained life. Boyles’ Elizabeth is beautifully dressed in a classic movie star little black dress. Her hair coifed, her makeup perfect, and her smile that deeply fragile fierce smile that only Elizabeth Taylor had. She is captured by her superbly well. Her skin just as porcelain, her voice just as lilting, her manner somewhere between flirtatious and refined. There’s a sadness too. A resignation, a carefully hidden exhaustion. Her back is giving her a lot of pain and has been since she fell off her horse shooting “Black Beauty.” After many surgeries and numerous doctors and treatments, she would never fully recover. The huge variety of pain medication is all that allows her to continue acting and what contributes to her addiction issues for her entire life. 

So, it is here that we find her.  Sipping champagne, popping the occasional pill, fielding calls from lawyers and Eddie, and watching her daughter in the pool. She talks and talks and as the champagne and the pills kick in a little, she talks some more. Sharing things she knows she shouldn’t, being impossibly charming and warm and funny and sweetly truthful. She never falters, other than when her back spasms. She is utterly Elizabeth. And we long for her to be in our lives once again. 

“Call Me Elizabeth” is pure nostalgia. Everything set up to take us back to a time in her life when there were so many possibilities. An Elizabeth Taylor on the edge of something remarkable.

Filming “Cleopatra,” paused after weeks of a disastrous shoot, is about to restart. She told them it would take a million dollars to get her back on that set again and they gave it to her, calling her bluff. So the film that nearly bankrupted a studio and heralded one of Hollywood’s greatest love stories was days away. And you can feel the electricity in the air when she takes the call telling her that Richard Burton would be playing Mark Antony. 

A NoHo Arts theatre review of “Call Me Elizabeth,” written and performed by Kayla Boye, and directed by Erin Kraft at this year’s Hollywood Fringe Festival.

This is a beautiful play, cleverly assembled from Taylor’s own words.  She really did have this conversation with a biographer. It’s like watching the fate of a life turning at a single moment in time. When we have all the answers and she has decades ahead of her. Brilliant! 

I love solo shows and I particularly love this kind of intimate monologue. Who wouldn’t want to be in that room 60 years ago watching Elizabeth Taylor talk…about anything at all!?

Kayla Boye’s performance leaves us a little breathless, so close is her performance to Taylor herself. There’s a lovely presence to her, a weight, something much more than mimicry, closer to reverence, but not sickly at all. Very honest, very true. It’s remarkable and it makes for a truly wonderful play.

When:

Closes June 12

Where:

Zephyr Theatre
5456 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, 90046

Tickets:

https://www.hollywoodfringe.org/projects/7335?tab=tickets

Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros
Author: Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros

Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros is a British writer and filmmaker living In Los Angeles.