November 2013 – Pygmalion

PYGMALION

 PARLOUR PLAYERS

 Reviewed by Peter Steptoe

This is the audience’s favourite Shaw play and it is easy to understand why; for just as Barrie in the Admirable Crichton brought the aristocracy to heel, so Shaw does the same for the middle classes twenty years later.

Parlour Players under Helen Chisnall’s skilful direction gave us full measure and, unlike other plays, the audience indulged in grateful applause at the end of most scenes.

Professor Henry Higgins is the sort of part every actor dreams of having and Mark Pendry brought him to life warts and all.  We even liked his irascibility and the way he found he couldn’t do without Eliza’s pragmatism.  Harriett Jackson as Eliza Doolittle showed her lack of education and background convincingly and I delighted in the afternoon tea scene when in educated tones she said “It’s my opinion he done her in.”  I always feel that the remaining players have been introduced as a means of enhancing the plot, save perhaps Colonel Pickering who is a sort of chaperone along with the housekeeper to protect the morality of the times.  Ron White as Pickering exuded gentleness and good manners towards Eliza and Ros Tunbridge as the housekeeper showed the correct disciplined maternalism that Eliza required.  Chester Stern as the latter’s father, Alfred Doolittle, was a picture of the ‘undeserving poor’, and this rang strangely true with today’s circumstances.  Hazel Mason was the professor’s mother and gently showed her despair at his inability to consider the feeling of others.

Freddy Eynsford Hill was described as incapable of holding down a job as an errand boy and I congratulate Michael Cooke on undertaking this part.  Joyce Wells was his mother and Katie Eynon was his sister, both added to the fun in then afternoon tea scene.

A special mention for the parlour maid, Sarah Smith, whose only function was to announce the guests and this she did in an exemplary manner.