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Review of Sirens of the Silver Screen at the Tabard Theatre

Beth Burrows – Audrey Hepburn
Beth Burrows – Audrey Hepburn

Sirens of the Silver Screen is a cross-fertilising blend of story-telling, singing, music, dance and cinema. It takes on the massive personalities of three actors, Judy Garland, Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe who, possibly because they introduced a unique and lasting image of feminine vulnerability and talent to Hollywood’s dream-making machine, are still worthy of our respect and attention decades after their deaths.

Beth Burrows, as narrator and chanteuse, presents a stereotypical image of each actor, repeating well-worn, salacious facts of the tragedies suffered by Garland and Monroe, each equally famous for their supposed misuse of barbiturates and alcohol, and as victims of the cruel, myth-making Hollywood machine. What is rarely alluded to in any characterisation of both actors is the enormous drive and ruthlessness that must accompany the need for global success and recognition. To simply dress up as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz to pay tribute to Garland – or to parody Monroe in the white halter dress that billowed around her thighs in The Seven Year Itch – is a vapid form of pastiche that downgrades the power of these complicated megastars.

Audrey Hepburn doesn’t fit the mix as, although a potent screen legend, she also earned wide acclaim as a humanitarian awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. If truth be told, none of the three actors would enjoy being lumped together through the songs they’ve sung in their best-known films. But this is precisely the play’s premise, which sometimes comes across as simply a showcase for Burrows’ singing talents. And if we are to accept that Sirens of the Silver Screen is primarily a quasi-cabaret piece that hangs its peg on old movie tunes, then more has to be made of the two masterful musicians, Alex Maynard (pianist and musical director), and Doug Grannell (double bassist) who share the stage with Burrows. At least a couple of the songs could be performed instrumentally, adding another level of texture to the piece.

What does come across, however, is that Burrows recognises the depth and breadth of each of her characters, which is precisely why she must choose. There is another play inside Sirens of the Silver Screen that’s yet to be enacted and Burrows has the talent to bring it to the fore. It is her decision whether she wishes to take the life and talent of one of these actors and offer it a place it deserves in story and song – which would bring Burrows to a soulful and dangerous place as both singer and actor – or to leave it at a safe level for people who like to reminisce about yesteryear. As it stands now, it is neither cabaret nor play but an evening of light entertainment that flirts with deeply serious material yet to be plumbed.

3 Star Review

Review by Loretta Monaco

Glitz, glamour and grim truths: Sirens of the Silver Screen delves into the lives of the 20th century’s most iconic women – Judy Garland, Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe. This sisterhood of stunning starlets lit up the silver screen for decades and kept tongues wagging with their scandalous off-screen antics.

These femme fatales live again as Beth Burrows takes on each infamous woman, performing their most loved songs and shedding light on the shadowy secrets that stalked their careers.

A New Adventure into Old Hollywood in Song & Story
Created and Performed by Beth Burrows
Directed by Mark Giesser
Prepare to be transported to Old Hollywood, where fame, fate and misfortune collide…

Sirens of the Silver Screen
26 June – 14 July 2018
Created and Performed by Beth Burrows
Tabard Theatre
2 Bath Road
London, W4 1LW


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