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Review: Pygmalion - Newcastle Theatre Royal

From flower girl to middle class respectability

Pygmalion: Rula Lenska (Mrs Higgins) Jane Lambert (Mrs Eynsford-Hill) Alistair McGowan (Higgins) Anna O'Grady (Clara Eynsford-Hill) -®Manuel Harlan

Pygmalion - Newcastle Theatre Royal

Written by Bernard Shaw

Until Saturday 26th April 2014

Director: David Grindley

The timeless comedy classic about how Henry Higgins (Alistair McGowan) takes on the challenge of teaching the flower seller girl Eliza Doolittle (Rachel Barry) how to pass herself off in middle class society is an entertaining way to spend an evening. 

Whilst McGowan is well known for his voices on programmes like Spitting Image the rest of the cast are equally as impressive with the various accents. Eliza and her Dad, Alfred, (Jamie Foreman) display a range of vocal talents as they toggle between working class London to various attempts at a posher accent. This gives both actors a big share of the laughs. Laughs are also given by the straight roles of Henry Higgins’ Mother (played by the wonderful Ruth Lenska) and Colonel Pickering (Paul Brightwell). This strong cast are able to deliver the lines with comic timing without coming across as wooden or tongue-in-cheek. At the time of its first opening there was scandal over the use of forbidden words but the language used is more likely to raise laughs rather than eyebrows today. The set was well designed, by Jonathan Fensom, so that the action flowed through the scenes. The subtle lighting by Jason Taylor also helped convey a sense of the period.  One feels empathy for Eliza as she strives for independence and mild irritation of the actions of Henry Higgins and Colonel Pickering during their experiment.

This was an absorbing, charming and delightful play. 

Pygmalion: Alistair McGowan as Prof Higgins -®Manuel Harlan

Pygmalionappears at Newcastle Theatre Royal from Tuesday 22 – Saturday 26 April. Tickets are available from £12.00 (plus a booking fee of 95p - £1.95 will apply to most tickets) and can be purchased from the Theatre Royal Box Office on 08448 11 21 21 or select your own seat and book online at

Photos: ©   Manuel Harlan

Tour website: 

The tour continues
21/04 - 26/04/14        Newcastle    Newcastle Theatre Royal
28/04 - 03/05/14        Malvern         Festival Theatre
05/05 - 10/05/14        Oxford            Oxford Playhouse
12/05 - 17/05/14        Coventry       Coventry Belgrade
27/05 - 31/05/14        Milton Keynes           Milton Keynes Theatre
02/06 -  07/06/14       Canterbury   Marlowe Theatre 
09/06 - 14/06/14        Plymouth        Theatre Royal Plymouth
16/06 - 21/06/14        Norwich         Norwich Theatre Royal

This review was written by Stephen Oliverfor Jowheretogo PR ( Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Jowheretogo on Facebook  

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