By William Mills
Now showing at the Theatre Royal Brighton. Daily until 22 March 2014.
Run time 2 hours 15 minutes. One interval. Five acts.
Bernard Shaw wrote Pygmalion a century ago to explore class, gender, life and love in this classic play which was beautifully acted out by a stellar cast at Brighton’s Theatre Royal last night.
Affluent speech teacher, ‘professor of phonetics’ Henry Higgins bets his friend Colonel Pickering that he can transform street girl Elisa Doolittle into a posh society ‘belle of the ball’ within six months of her moving into his house.
Alistair McGowan plays Henry Higgins’ part with a rare brilliance, superbly supported by Rula Lenska as maternal Mrs Higgins.
Eastenders‘ star Jamie Foreman plays Alfred Doolittle, prepared to sell his daughter for the then magnificent sum of £5, and whose acting skills shine as the play unfolds.
Charlotte Page speaks with a wonderful Irish accent playing housekeeper Mrs Pierce.
Paul Brightwell’s supporting role as Colonel Pickering is robust.
Rachel Barry is Elisa, a street flower seller bit by bit lifted from the slums in class conscious Edwardian times of 100 years ago.
There can nothing but praise for her as she performs her role with humour and great sensitivity, battling with Alistair McGowan over issues of feeling and love.
He has taken everything away from her- but then what did she have in her former life of grinding poverty?
She struggles to chose between the older Colonel offering comfortable married respectability versa a tempestuous love affair with same age Higgins, but who cares principally for himself.
It ends with this matter unresolved which gives the play its immortality.
A truly excellent show by director David Grindley capturing the times superbly and loved by the audience judging by their applause.