Let’s Review: The Old Globe’s ‘Pygmalion’ is delightful entertainment

By Diana Saenger

The story may be 100 years old, but The Old Globe Theatre proves George Bernard Shaw’s classic “Pygmalion” can still be funny and heartwarming. With a top-notch cast, a stunning set design and superb direction by Nicholas Martin, the production is delightful.

The set design beautifully recreates the look of an ornate mansion. Henry Dirocco

Charlotte Parry fully embodies her character Eliza Doolittle in the first 10 minutes of the play. She rushes on scene as Colonel Pickering (Paxton Whitehead, Old Globe Associate Artist) is trying to console Mrs. Hill (Maggie Carney) and her daughter Clara (Danielle O’Farrell) for having to wait for a cab.

Eliza immediately speaks in a loud cockney accent trying to sell her flowers when Freddy Hill (Robbie Simpson) runs in and accidently knocks her to the ground. Eliza demands payment for her ruined flowers while Clara adamantly orders her brother to ignore the obscene girl. Everyone is bantering about until the Colonel warns that there’s a man hiding behind a column writing down notes.

Language Professor Henry Higgins (Robert Sean Leonard) steps from the shadows and reveals he’s appalled at the way Eliza speaks. After conversation, Higgins bets the Colonel that in six months he can teach Eliza the proper speech for a lady, cleanup her rag-a-muffin appearance, and have her pass for a woman of distinction. The bet is on.

Lacking self-esteem and with no place to go, Eliza agrees to move into Higgins’ home for the experiment. Even though his own house- keeper (Deborah Taylor) chastises Higgins for the situation he’s put Eliza in (not to mention they way he treats her) Eliza begins to blossom. But for every improvement she makes in her life she must also endure Higgins’ constant putdowns.

The scenic design by Alexander Dodge with a rotating floor is gorgeous, drawing audible sounds of approval from the audience.

It’s hard to take one’s eyes off Higgins’ home with its tall walls and cases full of trophies and other objects — most especially when the floor rotates to reveal Higgins’ mother’s lavish mansion-like home artfully decorated with beautiful accessories.

Against many suggestions, playwright Shaw was always adamant that “Pygmalion” was never intended to be a happy-ever-after experience. Nicholas Martin serves that objective well with this direction.

In her Cinderella-like role Parry invites both empathy and pride throughout her journey. Leonard plays the man we admire but dislike with an even excellence. Whitehead is engaging and Don Sparks is zany and comical as Eliza’s estranged father. Kandis Chapell is totally transparent as a mother who is proud of her scientific son, but appalled every time he opens his mouth.

Audiences will appreciate everything about this production, especially the laughs that just keep coming.

If you go

■ What: ‘Pygmalion’

■ When: Matinees, evenings to Feb. 17

■ Where: The Old Globe Theatre, 1363 Old Globe Way, Balboa Park

■ Tickets: From $29

■ Phone: (619) 234-5623

■ Web: TheOldGlobe.org

Related posts:

  1. Let’s Review: Stunning performances take ‘Allegiance’ over the top
  2. ‘The Brothers Size’ will heat up The Old Globe stage
  3. In The Spotlight: Des McAnuff returns for rock extravaganza premiering at Playhouse
  4. ‘Good People’ often find few alternatives in times of trouble
  5. Young local actors thrilled to be part of Old Globe’s Grinch 2011

Short URL: http://www.lajollalight.com/?p=100738

Posted by Ashley Mackin on Jan 23, 2013. Filed under A & E, Theater. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply

La Jolla Community Calendar

Facebook

Bottom Buttons 1

Bottom Buttons 2

Bottom Buttons 3

Bottom Buttons 4

Bottom Buttons 5

Bottom Buttons 6

RSS North Coastal News

  • Author, illustrator to launch new children’s book at Solana Beach Library August 30, 2014
    Meet author Tonton Jim and illustrator E. Felix Lyon as they launch “Harold and the Hot Rod” (Hound’s Glenn Series Book Two) at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 6, at the Solana Beach Library. There will be readings from the book, illustration demonstrations, Q & A with the author, illustrator and publisher, and refreshments and door prizes. […]
  • San Dieguito Union High School District Superintendent Rick Schmitt’s Monthly Update August 30, 2014
    On behalf of our Board of Trustees, I want to welcome you and our 12,400-plus students to the 2014-15 academic year. The start of a new school year is always exciting. We have spent the summer eagerly preparing for your student’s return on Aug. 26 and look forward to sharing new learning experiences with each of you. For parents/guardians whose students are […]
  • To your health: 5 questions to ask your new doctor August 30, 2014
    At some point, nearly everyone will need to choose a new physician, perhaps because of a change in insurance, a move to a new city, or simply a feeling that it is time to make a switch. Your relationship with your physician is perhaps one of the most important in your life, and you want a provider who is not only highly knowledgeable and experienced, but als […]