The path towards achieving social mobility is an enduring one, one paved with ambition, ethic and resilience. The very notion of being able to move amongst the classes an aspirational feat ingrained within the British fabric. A phenomenon observed and tapped into well by George Bernard Shaw and his classic work Pygmalion – the production is a fascinating case study into the power of language, tone and confidence/demeanour.
From the opulent, sophisticated, lavish nature of high society, to the rough, grey, unforgiving cobbled streets of London, Richard Jones‘ production jostles between the two realms indicative of the UK’s class structure. Patsy Ferran‘s lively, loquacious Eliza Doolittle – hardened by the plights of her humble beginnings – subtly transforms into a magnetic, eloquent presence demanding for those in the higher ranks to take notice. Bertie Carvel‘s Professor Henry Higgins an ardent linguist determined to win a bet placed with contemporary Colonel Pickering (Michael Gould) to transform her into a distinguished part of their world.
Jones’ considered production concentrates on the power of language and the leverage that this can give you if mastered correctly. From its symbology, to its delivery, this of course is a production for those in particular who are fascinated by the root of language. We focus on Eliza and watch not only her vocabulary flourish but her confidence shine. She becomes emboldened – this a quality she embodies prior, but exudes more so here. John Marquez’s Alfred Doolittle embodies a nonchalant charm, Eliza’s father, he’s a master of words accustomed to using his powers or persuasion to close the latest business deal. Through him we see a man shaped by the harsh realities of life, a man who’s been taught to survive.
Pygmalion visualises the ascent to higher society well, a facet of our world that particular people master well, an entertaining evening.
Written by Lucy Basaba.
Pygmalion is currently showing until Saturday 28th October at The Old Vic. To find out more about the production, visit here…