|Date||8th April 2022|
|Society||New Kinver Players|
|Venue||Edward Marsh Centre (KSCA), Legion Drive, Kinver.|
|Type of Production||Play|
|Stage Manager||Seg Johnson|
|Written By||George Bernard Shaw|
Author: Dave Brown
Another wonderful evening spent with New Kinver Players (NKP) version of Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw. Directed by Ruth Cattell, who has shown tonight that she is a thought-provoking director as well as a great actor. Stage managed expertly by Seg Johnson with light and sound in the very capable hands of Frank Latham and Martin Ward.
Pygmalion is considered a great example of writer George Bernard Shaw’s flair for paradoxes with a recurrent number of problems thrown into a mix but not all of them necessarily resolved in a happy ending. Shaw has created some well-known characters and his writing is witty and clever with some of the best use of irony. Pygmalion is often considered a “serious comedy”. It is certainly not considered a romantic comedy.
Set in classic London with a rainy opening in Covent Garden, there were many instant wonderful characterisations which promised a strong production. Then the reveal of Henry’s apartment with a surprising contemporary feel launched the play into territory that worked so well.
The character of Professor Henry Higgins, a bachelor with a deep interest in linguistics, is interested in “creating the perfect lady” by “experimenting” with a young girl who sells flowers (Eliza Doolittle). Towards the end of the play, his dependency on Eliza is rather more than just an experiment but a convenience he can’t live without, because who would arrange his diary, his appointments and find his slippers!? Eliza on the other hand appears lost as she loses her identity and her place in society.
Henry remains fixated with his work throughout the play and remains devastating when it comes to social cues with a severe lack of empathy towards Eliza and other people. He was played by actor Richard Delahaye who drove the play with such confidence and some quality acting. Richard really enjoyed the wonderful language of the character with some marvellous unforgettable insults such as “Squashed Cabbage Leaf” and “Bilious Pigeon”.
Colonel Pickering (Mike Galikowski) remained kind, fair and supportive of Eliza and made it clear he disapproved of the behaviour of Henry Higgins. Mike Galikowski had the right level of tone with a good rapport with Richard Delahaye on stage. Henry’s housekeeper, Mrs Pearce who also showed her dismay at Henry’s lack of manners and was often concerned the way Eliza was treated was a brilliant portrayal by Chrissy Coleman who took this role with ease. She held good stage presence and had the right amount of instinct and sharp awareness of her surroundings.
Eliza Doolittle, played by Sue Portsmouth showed her versatility as an actor. There were some great scenes between her and Richard and some moving dialogue which occasionally ran the risk of losing focus as the play is certainly heavy on the dialogue in parts, but Sue and Richard remained engaging and fresh and this was due to hard work of both actors working well together.
Eliza’s father, Alfred Doolittle (Chris Lees) started off as a happy dustman but then becomes a very uncomfortable rich person, Chris portrayed some nice moments of this dilemma.
The scene where Eliza was put to the test was wonderful. It begins with Mrs Higgins’s (Di McCann) being extremely upset that her son has called in on her without prior arrangement, this is because she has told him not to come unannounced because she might have guests which often means they will get insulted by Henry. Di’s character of Mrs Higgins was skilfully played with some of the best lines of the play delivered in a candid and confident way. Di McCann really knew her part!
Di also played a bystander at the start of the play getting soaked in the rain with a young Urchin girl played by Lilliemay Johnston. Lilliemay reacted to her surroundings in such a playful and innocent way it gave the opening scene some further depth.
Supportive but crucial characters, Mrs Eynesford-Hill (Lee Knight), Clara Eynesford-Hill (Georgina Johnston) and Freddy Eynesford-Hill (Emma Francis) were all very strong as usual and finally, introducing Diane Baugh, a new actor to the company, who played, Mrs Higgins’ parlourmaid seemed so at ease and confident in her role.
NKP have succeeded again with a play that was memorable and impressive. Carefully designed, with a strong team, talent and a strong love for theatre, it was indeed a great night. Thank you once again for the kind invitation, another lovely welcome and a classically served “Lime and Soda” Ruth!
You can learn a lot from NKP. More please!