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Review of Pygmalion at the Tower Theatre

Pygmalion Cast Tower Theatre
Pygmalion – Tower Theatre

A warm welcome awaits you at this wonderful and comfortable theatre, upstairs in the octagonal tower, home of the Tower Theatre Company.

Emilia Teglia’s fabulous production of Shaw’s most popular play sticks closely to the original. The Victorian humour is perfectly reflected, it retains all the play’s social themes and provides us with a very entertaining evening.

Dickon Farmar is superb as a condescending, capricious and aloof Professor Higgins who has ‘never met a man of good character’ and who wants to keep Eliza’s hat as a curiosity. Higgins is the fulcrum of the play and barely has time to draw breath. The incompatible relationship between Higgins and flower girl Eliza comes across well. But the star is Celia Learmonth; her Eliza Doolittle is magnificent.

Eliza’s changing mannerisms and phonetics are played equally well and the change in her personality is absolutely convincing. Simon Taylor as Colonel Pickering provides an effective foil between the two, and completes a seamless performance between the three characters.

Kevin Furness saves his best for last. The character of Alfred Doolittle gets a lot of the best gags – all excellently provided by Furness. The accent is spot on and, now ’delivered into middle-class morality’ he lights up the play’s final act.

The Eynsford Hills are a family devoted to social climbing. The hapless Freddy (Christopher O’Dea) is excellent. Heather Dalton and Joanna Coulton as Mrs and Clara Eynsford Hill work well together and it’s a shame that Joanna Coulton doesn’t have a larger part; maybe next time.

This production keeps all the play’s themes – social climbing, class, snobbery, grammar and manners – to the fore, the costumes are correctly Victorian, it is professionally put together, the scene changes work well and it is a very funny and well-acted play. I was slightly baffled by a brief surreal musical interlude accompanied by flashing lights in the first half, but aside from that, it was a grand night out. You should go!

4 stars

Review by Mike Stephenson

Witness the transformation of Eliza Doolittle from flower girl to duchess in this timeless comedy about social divide, women’s rights and the “education” of the working class.

Pygmalion both delighted and scandalized its first audiences in 1914. Over one hundred years after it was written, its universally familiar characters, the egomaniac professor, the sassy flower girl and the drunkard philosopher, continue to stir roars of bitter-sweet laughter from audiences across the world. It remains Bernard Shaw’s most popular play.

Cast List
Eliza Doolittle: Celia Learmonth
Professor Higgins: Dickon Farmar
Colonel G. Pickering: Simon Taylor
Alfred P. Doolittle, taxi man, constable, bystander: Kevin Furness
Mrs Higgins, bystander, footman: Rosanna Preston
Freddy Eynsford Hill, Professor Nepommuck: Christopher O’Dea
Mrs Eynsford Hill, Hostess at ball: Heather Dalton
Clara Eynsford Hill, taxi man: Joanna Coulton
Mrs Pearce, Bystander : Sarah Wenban
Sarcastic Bystander, Manservant, Constable, Host at Ball: Peter Novis
Footman at Ball: Kejenne Beard

Production Team
Director : Emilia Teglia
Set Design : Max Batty
Costume Design : Irena Pancer
Lighting Design : Rob Hebblethwaite
Composer : Vera Bremerton
Produced in collaboration with Odd Eyes Theatre as part of the White Other project.

Pygmalion
by Bernard Shaw
Directed by Emilia Teglia
Evenings at 7.30 :
Booking to Saturday 22nd June
At the Tower Theatre, Stoke Newington
http://www.towertheatre.org.uk/

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