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Review: Pygmalion by Moot House Players

Lifestyle / Tue 14th Jul 2015 pm31 07:11pm

Review by Gary Shaw
Pygmalion

Moot House Players 8pm on July 9th, 10th, 11th.

Moot House, The Stow, Harlow.

“At the end of six months, you shall go to Buckingham Palace in a carriage, beautifully dressed.”

Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion derived its name from a Latin narrative poem, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, in which Pygmalion is the main character. It was then adapted to become the 1956 Broadway musical My Fair Lady, and shortly after in 1964 the Hollywood film of the same name starring Rex Harrison, with Audrey Hepburn in the title role.

It’s now the turn of the Moot House Players to stage this wonderful play. Anyone new to the story will receive a great introduction via this production and anyone who only knows of it from the musical is in for a treat.

Pygmalion is the tale of two old gentlemen who meet one rainy night in Covent Garden. Professor Higgins (Geoff Leeds) is an expert of phonetics, and Colonel Pickering (Michael Branwell) is a linguist of Indian dialects. The first bets the other that he can, with his knowledge of phonetics, convince high London society that, in just six months, he will be able to transform the Cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle (Kerry Rowland), into a woman as sophisticated and well-spoken as a duchess.

Ignoring the doubts of his housekeeper Mrs. Pearce (Claire Quley) and the appearance of Eliza’s conniving father Alfred (Michael Rees), Higgins sets about to tutor Eliza to speak more eloquently. Two trials for his work then follow: the first at the house of Higgins’ mother (Jenny Southwell), where Eliza is introduced to the Eynsford-Hills, a mother (Catriona Macleay), daughter Clara (Abbie Taplin), and son Freddie (Connor Hughes) who is instantly attracted to her and is amused by her “small talk” whenever she slips into Cockney.

The second trial is a day spent with Higgins and Pickering, first at a Garden Party, then a Dinner Party and finally a visit to the Opera. Was it a resounding success? Has Eliza risen about the impoverished and uncultured existence she once knew to be accepted by high society, with the promise of a better life? Only one way to find out. Well, there is always the internet, but it’s much more enjoyable to go see this wonderful live production!

“I have created this creature from the squashed cabbage leaves of Covent Garden”.

Kerry Rowland is an absolute delight to watch throughout. I do hope she continues to perform with the Players, as she is indeed a very talented actor. The partnership of Geoff Leeds and Michael Branwell perfectly portray Higgins and Pickering and often have some of the funniest lines. Stalwarts of the Moot House Players Michael Rees and Claire Quley deliver fine performances as always. I’ve not seen Connor Hughes at Moot House before, but let’s hope he’s now a regular, as he did a fine job as Freddie. Also special mention to Angela Hodgson, Seb Ellson and Michael Caswell for their appearances within the production.

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