This was my first Pygmalion. I've not seen My Fair Lady either (musical 🥴), but I know of it, I know the story, so I was curious to see a production.
This Old Vic production kicks off with a stagey bustle of posh people sheltering from the rain outside the Royal Opera House with snatches of different conversations, complaints and commands to find taxis.
Flower girl Eliza Doolittle's basket (Patsy Ferran) gets knocked to the ground, and, cor blimey guv'nor, it all kicks off.
Eliza is thrown into the path of arrogant and rude linguist Henry Higgins (Bertie Carvel), who has a knack for pinpointing exactly where people are from by their accents.
If she can learn to speak 'proper', Eliza has a chance of working in a flower shop rather than hawking flowers on the streets. She solicits elocution lessons from Higgins, who simultaneously wagers a bet with Colonel Pickering (Michael Gould) that he can pass Eliza off as a lady.
It is a play where prejudices and concerns expressed in the early scenes hang over the story. It's not a case of whether Eliza will 'transform' into a lady but what happens as a consequence. Indeed the transformation is seemingly rapid, but more on that later.
One of my favourite scenes is Eliza's first outing, where she's nailed the posh accent, but her language is natural to her upbringing. It's cleverly performed by Ferran.
It's also one of my favourite scenes because it's when the sensible Mrs Higgins, Henry's mother, appears played by the brilliant Sylvestra Le Touzel.