Friday, 25 July 2008
Last night I belatedly went to The Old Vic to see Pygmalion. I had read that George Bernard Shaw's original play was much darker than the My Fair Lady version we all probably know best. However I still found it be an extremely witty, playful and astute play. Much of the social comment is as apt today as it was then- especially the points about people with real class speaking to anyone and also not really being all that bothered by rules and regulations about how to behave.
The play is based on the Pygmalion myth and the 'love' story between Henry Higgins, the sculptor, and Eliza, the sculptee, is extremely well acted. Both performances are very subtle and bring out the aspects of their characters. Higgins particularly must be a difficult part, he is man who is very self sufficient and cannot admit his feelings for Eliza but Tim Piggot Smith manages to make you see why Eliza doesn't want to leave him.
Eliza is a surprisingly modern character, choosing to spend the money she receives on bettering herself through education and seeing that she has to look after her future even if that means making painful choices in the present.
Everything about the production was a joy, from the costumes to the sets to the fine acting from the whole company of actors. I want to go again!
The imdb boards are talking about a remake of My Fair Lady but I think a new film version of Pygmalion would be better- that way they could focus more on the themes and wonderful dialogue and language and less on the songs.