From Cabbage leaves to Cartier: Pygmalion at the Alley

Went and saw the Alley Theatre’s production of Pygmalion last night. As most of you know, I have a hard time with theatre because I usually can’t understand what the actors are saying since they’re so caught up in articulating and not thinking about acoustics. I did not have this problem, however, and really enjoyed it. (Having good company always helps, as well).

So, Pygmalion is what the musical “My Fair Lady” is based off of and much of the dialogue from the play is incorporated directly into the Rex Harrison — Audrey Hepburn classic. Here is a link to “Just you Wait Henry Higgins” which I sing to myself on a daily basis.

The play, written in 1912, is based off of the Greek story of Pygmalion, a sculptor who creates the perfect woman who subsequently comes to life, and focuses on the ideas of transformation and freedom.  Here he asks — Can we really be trained to be who we are not? I would say that in this play Shaw gives us a Rousseau-ian critique of the essential nature of man’s character and our inability to be truly ‘reformed’ outside it. What did unsettle me, however, was what was supposed to be the most charming part of the play — Higgins horrible treatment of Miss Eliza Doolittle, his harsh sculpting of her into the work of art that is to blossom into a duchess by the end of the play. Although, for Shaw, Higgins is supposed to demonstrate that wealth, position, and education do not guarantee an ounce of humanity and Eliza (his opposite) demonstrates that her lack of Higgin’s advantages that does not deny her her humanity, his references to her as dust and cabbage leaves just made me cringe. Did Shaw’s audience at the time think that was over the top language or was that just an exaggeration of how men could speak to women in the Victorian salon? I am not sure.

Nonetheless, for once, I agree with the multiple excellent reviews and hope that you get the chance to enjoy it yourself.

For ticket information, please click here.

For information about the cast and production, please click here.

Please excuse me, but I just must include one more My Fair Lady clip which is as close to a theme song as I will probably ever get:

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