Venue: Drama Barn
Date: 18th-20th of May
Directors: Grace Kelly and Naomi Lawrence
Producers: Kyriacos Elia and Edd Riley
Eliza Doolittle (Eliza Shea) captivated the first scenes with outrageously funny facial expressions, amplified Cockney-isms and her fierce energy, confidently sculpting a distinct impression of her character in the early stages of the play.
The comedy in these opening scenes was illuminated by the rapport between Eliza and Professor Higgins (Mungo Tatton-Brown). The clash of two characters, who embody the extremes of the lower and upper middle class, caused sparks to fly. The pair kept the audience entertained without overdoing the comedy; this was also partly due to Colonel Pickering (David Edwards) intermittently diffusing the tension between them through his well timed words of reason, giving Eliza and Higgins an opportunity to flare up again.
The characters of Eliza and Professor Higgins were developed well during the first act. Higgins’ animated hand gestures and impulsive movements across the stage portrayed his eccentricity. His behavior also allowed the audience to feel slightly sympathetic towards his lack of social skills which had presumably left him a self professed “confirmed bachelor”. Eliza did well in conveying her transformation. The success of her performance was evident as signified to the audience the unnatural nature of the experiment which she has undergone.
Though the momentum of the first act was lost slightly in the second act, the performance did effectively convey the more serious themes of the play, namely the manipulation and objectification of Eliza.
Professor Higgins’ mother (Ela Gaworzewska) must be noted for her consistency, maintaining a condescending manner towards her the male characters conveying almost, an air of snobbery towards them. This worked well in preventing Higgins and Pickering’s treatment of Eliza being taken too seriously, as the audience were very much aware of the fact that the gentlemen were themselves being kept in line by Mrs Higgins.
The second half also saw Eliza’s father (Joel Brooks) come into his own after seeming rather nervous in the first act. Whereas previously his accent had been hard to place and his movements a little tense; by the second half he had obviously found his footing and confidently swaggered about the stage with enough charisma to give Higgins and Pickering a run for their money.
There were a few slip-ups regarding lines but actors recovered them well. I also felt a slight division in the cast between the minor characters and the main characters which at times left the male chorus (Alex Wakelam) and female chorus (Henrietta Mitchell) appearing rather redundant. Overall however, it was a stellar performance which delivered superb acting and great comedy.