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New Era - Pygmalion

11th to 21st June 2003.

This is the Newbury Weekly News review.

Pygmalion full of pace and passion

New Era Players: Pygmalion, from June 11 to 21

New Era Players are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year which is quite an accomplishment for any theatre company. They constantly produce such a diverse programme of plays with such professionalism that it is always a delight to be asked to review them.

Their summer offering of Pygmalion was no exception to this tradition. Director Marie Jacobs had beautifully captured the essence of Shaw’s wit. His issues of the values of Edwardian society, the battle of the sexes and his powerful arguments regarding the social classes still have both political and social relevance today.

The story is of course best known through the film My Fair Lady but the play gives the opportunity for Shaw’s humour and language to shine through and this talented ensemble took every opportunity to do just that.

It is a tale about a humble flower seller in Covent Garden who asks a phonetics professor to transform her into a lady so she can run a flower shop, but what a journey she has to undertake in order to achieve this transformation.

Nicola Sowden was a splendid Eliza from her howling gutter vowels to her blossoming as a lady, a totally convincing performance.

David Zeke was perfectly cast as the selfish, egotistical and finally vulnerable Professor Higgins, ably supported by Peter Hendricks as the sensible, pragmatic Colonel Pickering.

Much humour was injected by Eliza’s father, Doolittle, a wonderful characterisation created by Nigel Winter, a real joy to watch.

The ever suffering housemaid Mrs Pearce (Pam Hillier-Brook) tried to bring some sense of order into Higgins’ chaotic life and Mrs Higgins (Mary Walker) was delightful as the mother who eventually helps Eliza to become her own person.

But what was most impressive was the way the whole company worked seamlessly together as a team to create such a wonderful evening’s entertainment.

Jane Whitaker’s ambitious and inventive design created a perfect set for the period and the costumes were simply scrumptious. This was a production full of pace and passion. It was utterly charming, enjoyed by all the audience. To quote the musical it was “simply luvverly”.