Pygmalion – The Original My Fair Lady

Pygmalion Rating

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Garrick Theatre’s latest production of George Bernard Shaw’s classic play Pygmalion opened last night to great anticipation. While most are familiar with the story through the film My Fair Lady and its countless adaptations, Pygmalion is the original source, encapsulating Shaw’s true intentions.

First premiered in Vienna in 1913, Pygmalion is a romantic comedy about Professor Henry Higgins, an English gentleman who bets he can transform Eliza Doolittle, a scruffy Cockney flower girl, into a proper lady.

As the curtains rose, the audience was transported to Old Covent Garden in London, with excellent lighting effects by Technical Director Geoff Holt, creating a marvellous ambience of an English rainy day.

The cast delivered strong performances throughout the play. Peter Clark excelled as Professor Henry Higgins, portraying the character’s likable-unlikable intellectualism. His blunt honesty and unawareness of the impact of his words on others, coupled with the absence of ill intent, brought depth to the role. Stuart Ridgway’s Colonel Pickering was like a trusted uncle, embodying the Professor’s gentlemanly confidant. Ridgway’s portrayal of Pickering’s paternal relationship with Eliza, helping her gain self-respect alongside phonetics, was heartfelt and genuine. Catherine Leeson’s Eliza Doolittle adeptly showcased the character’s evolution, with her comedic moments peaking in the middle of the play. Her portrayal captured Eliza’s transformation with authenticity and charm.

The supporting cast also shone brightly. Adam Skellham played Alfred Doolittle, Eliza’s scheming father, transitioning from a dustman to the epitome of middle-class morality. Sorcha Leary and Janice Phillips, respectively played Clara and Mrs. Eynsford Hill, depicted the petulant and idle rich with flashes of charm. Marsha Holt, as Mrs. Higgins, consistently put her son, the Professor, in his place, adding a much-needed mature counterbalance to her son’s sometimes haphazard approach to life. James Skellham’s Freddy was convincingly bumbling and infatuated with Eliza, while Allyson Corti’s Mrs. Pearce provided a grounded perspective on the implications of Higgins’ bet. Special mention to Juliette Hyland as the Parlour Maid, whose small role brought subtle yet appreciated comedic relief.

The Set Designer and Director Fred Petersen ingeniously crafted the set, with detailed transitions between scenes from Covent Garden to Higgins’ Laboratory and Mrs. Higgins’ Flat. His meticulous planning was evident and greatly enhanced the production. The choice of classic piano music between scene changes enriched the overall atmosphere, and the period-appropriate wardrobe, especially for the ladies, added a delightful authenticity.

As for the play’s ending? While many adaptations exist, this production offers the unique opportunity to experience Shaw’s original narrative as he intended.

The Garrick Theatre’s cast and crew have created a memorable and faithful rendition of this timeless play. Don’t miss the chance to return to Old Victorian London and enjoy this classic tale.

Pygmalion runs from June 6 to 22.

Performance Dates:
June 6, 7, 8, 9*, 13, 14, 15*, 15eve, 16*, 20, 21, 22
All evening shows at 7:30 PM.
*Matinees at 2 PM.

Bookings: TAZtix or call (08) 9255 3336.

This review also appears on It’s On The House. Check out more reviews at Whats The Show to see what else is on in your town.

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