IT'S STORMIN! SAYS NORMAN; Legend Mailer Raves over Welshman's Burton Play

Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales), September 29, 2002 | Go to article overview

IT'S STORMIN! SAYS NORMAN; Legend Mailer Raves over Welshman's Burton Play


Byline: JOHN GILHEANEY

WORLD literary giant Norman Mailer has hailed a play on the life of Richard Burton as one of the best works of drama he's ever seen.

The play by Cardiff-based writer Mark Jenkins, called Playing Burton, has just been performed at the Provincetown Repertory theatre in Cape Cod which is run by Norris Mailer, Norman Mailer's wife.

The iconic author of such classics as The Naked And The Dead, The Fight and An American Dream - described Mark's script as, ``lyrical and rich in texture - I haven't enjoyed myself in the theatre so much for years''.

And on Brian Mallon, the Irish-American actor who portrays Burton and who bears an uncanny resemblance to the Welsh legend, Mailer is just as enthusiastic.

``The greatest compliment I can give to him is that I had to keep reminding myself that this was not actually Richard Burton in front of me,'' he said.

But the irony is that the play has been around for 10 years and has been put on 750 times before getting Mailer's huge seal of approval.

Now it's set to really hit the heights and will open at the Sydney Opera House theatre in November and is being tipped for a Broadway run.

The Mailer connection was made after the play got great reviews at the famous Actor's Studio in the USA.

``I worked with Brian for two years before we thought the play was ready, it's a very demanding part,'' says Mark.

``We put it on at the Actor's Studio and John Mailer, Norman's son, came to see it.

``He spoke to his father and together they arranged for it to go to Provincetown.''

And Mark and Brian were also invited to spend an evening with Mailer.

``He laid on a special cocktail party and we spent the whole evening at his table,'' says Mark.

``Having read so many of his novels I was in awe of him. He is a hero of mine and that night was the most exhilarating of my life.

``I found him a completely modest, charming man, a delightful character and he still has that twinkle in his eye!

``He gave Brian a copy of his novel, The Deer Park, and said that he's got to play one of the leading roles. …

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