"Unsentimental production of Shaw's Pygmalion"
by Matthew Partridge for remotegoat on 13/06/19

Pygmalion, currently running at Tower Theatre’s home in Stoke Newington, is George Bernard Shaw’s most well-known play, in part due to the later musical adaptation “My Fair Lady”. However, director Emilia Teglia’s production makes it clear that the original was very different. After getting into a confrontation with Eliza Doolittle (Celia Learmonth) outside the theatre, linguist Professor Henry Higgins (Dickon Farmar) is shocked to have her visit him, demanding lessons that will make her fit to sell flowers in a shop, rather than on the corner of Tottenham Court Road. Urged on by his colleague Colonel Pickering (Simon Taylor), he sets out to prove that he can pass her off as a high-born lady in polite society.

Like many of Shaw’s play, this deal with the themes of poverty and the hypocrisy of middle class values. However, more than any of his other works, it embraces the dark side of human nature, from the father (Kevin Furness) who effectively sells his daughter for £5, to Higgins’ own behaviour. Dickon Farmar plays the Professor as an antihero, part bully, part overgrown child. Indeed, his relationship with his mother (Rosanna Preston) suggests that he is still desperately looking for her approval. Celia Learmonth is also superb as Eliza, moving from feral, to submissive, before ending the play firmly in control.

A strong production that is definitely worth seeing. Directed by Emilia Teglia and produced by Tower Theatre. Cast also includes Christopher O’Dea, Heather Dalton, Joanna Coulton Sarah Wenban and Peter Novis.

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