Pygmalion – QPAC

My wife and I were lucky enough to attend the opening night of QPAC’s performance of Pygmalion last week.

It’s a terrific show – even if I must confess that really didn’t understand the second half of the play much at all.

More on that shortly.

Let me first say that I thought the production was excellent. The sets, stage design and performances were mostly impeccable. My only concern was the performance of the actress playing the wife of the American ambassador. What the hell was that accent? My wife, an American, could barely contain her disgust. Fortunately, said actress isn’t on stage very long. Aside from that, the accents and performances were excellent.

For people like myself who have never read or seen Pygmalion before, think “My Fair Lady” without the songs or the Hollywood ending.

Written by George Bernard Shaw in 1912, it’s the story of a wealthy London aristocrat, who happens to be both an expert in phonetics and a complete dickhead of a human being, and a young, poor, flower girl. He meets the girl on the street, makes fun of her lower-class accent and manners, then jokingly suggests that within three months he could teach her to pass herself off as a princess. Much to his chagrin, she turns up on his doorstep the next morning, determined to take him up on his challenge.

Despite it’s advanced age, the play is timeless in many aspects. In a country like ours that has a Prime Minister whose accent is the topic of much discussion, your accent and how you conduct yourself can still make or break a job interview or even determine the success of a professional career.

Where the play lost me was the second half. Not QPAC’s fault at all, of course, as I’m sure they are being true to the original text. I just couldn’t understand why Eliza seemed to give two cents what Higgins thought of her. He was a complete dickhead from the moment she met him. Even though I can appreciate that she may have grown a little fond of him during their three months working and living together, he seems to have treated her like an indentured servant. Perhaps she was suffering from Stockholm Syndrome? He was twice her age (at least) and didn’t seem have have any fond feelings for her, except for a regret to be losing his best student and servant. As most of the second half of the play is devoted to the end of their working relationship, it seemed to drag on a little.

Anyway, these minor complaints are probably due to my lack of understanding of the play. All in all I’d highly recommend going for yourself. Congrats to QPAC for putting on another fine show!