Pygmalion @ the Royal Exchange Theatre
By Bernard Shaw
Royal Exchange Theatre, 17 May 2010
This is a fine production of Shaw’s play about social class, cultural appropriation and much else besides.
The cast were perfect, what with Cush Jumbo as the spirited Eliza Doolittle and Simon Robson as the brusque Henry Higgins. Ian Bartholomew as Alfred Doolittle, Eliza’s father, was if possible a little more than perfect. His spiel about being a member of ‘the undeserving poor’ and proud of it pretty much brought the house down – as it may well have done in 1914, when the play was first performed.
One thing you have to give Shaw: he had a clear-eyed view of society and no time at all for hypocrisy. What would he have made of the current cant about ‘hard-working families’?
Throughout, the play shimmered with wit and intelligence and it evoked Conan Doyle (Higgins as Holmes, Colonel Pickering as Dr. Watson), Stevenson (the Prince Florizel stories) and Chesterton (for it has a fantastical quality) in equal measure. It vibed Victorian/Edwardian opulence cheek by jowl with grinding poverty.
Do go and see this splendid version of a classic play. You have until 19 June to do so. Details here.Explore posts in the same categories: Theatre review comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.