Playing to a full house, Jacky Fletcher’s strong direction captured the themes of the time (the play was written in 1913) and yet clearly brings out the modernity of attitude in some of the female characters, Eliza Doolittle (Catherine Bailey) Higgins’ mother, Mrs Higgins (Sue Saville) , and Higgins’ housekeeper, Mrs Pearce (Maria Bailey), writes Ann Sharp.
A well-cast ensemble captured and kept the audience’s attention throughout the production.
The play is based on the premise that Professor Higgins, an expert in dialect and phonetics, can turn a common, Cockney flower girl, into a duchess within six months.
Pygmalion, written by George Bernard Shaw is the story of that transformation.
Ben Telford as Higgins is scarily convincing in his portrayal of a conceited and arrogant man, who bullies Eliza into her new role for a wager.
The ethical issues surrounding his project are picked up by both Mrs Pearce and his mother.
He is dismissive of Mrs Pearce’s concerns and though he holds his mother in high esteem, he is unwilling to hear her arguments.
Sue Savile provides a strong foil to her son, as she fully understands his weaknesses, and it is to her that Eliza ultimately turns for help.
Catherine Bailey gives an outstanding performance as Eliza, transforming from an unsophisticated and screeching flower girl in Act I, to a dignified, well spoken “lady” in Act II.
After being presented as a duchess at the ambassador’s party, she is able to express heartfelt feelings for Higgins, whilst he is unable to help her with her dilemma of not fitting into either world.
Ultimately, she is able to see a way forward to future independence.
It is through being confronted by the “new” Eliza that Higgins can perhaps admire her independent spirit.
Does he have a little humanity after all?
Alfred Doolittle (Mark Bailey), brings honesty, humour and energy to the play despite his dubious morals.
Colonel Pickering (Stuart Marshall) convincingly shows respect and kindness towards Eliza, even though he actively aids and abets Higgins.
The set captures Higgins bachelor study admirably, whilst Mrs Higgins drawing room is altogether a light, airy and more fashionable affair. The costumes enhanced the production. In particular they highlighted Eliza’s metamorphosis and placed each character within their social class and circumstances.
This first rate, well-paced production is playing for the rest of the week finishing on Saturday, March 23.
For bookings go to www.dewsburyarts group.info or the Arts Group information Line on 01924 505861