Reviewed by G.J. for The Croydon Advertiser
Judging by last week’s performance of “Pygmalion,” Theatre Workshop’s detachment from CYTO was a move in the right direction. It was difficult to believe that this was the same company who put on that dreary pantomime in January.
A great deal of hard work had obviously gone into this presentation of Shaw’s famous drama.
Alan Tyerman’s lively production at Coulsdon Youth and Social Centre sped along, never allowing the players to become bogged down with Shaw’s weightier dialogue. Good use was made of the large stage, and the majority of moves seemed motivated by some thought.
Marilyn Wilson-Brown gave a discerning interpretation of the flower girl’s inner conflict. Effective in her early cockney scenes, she really blossomed in the final act, showing the tragedy of a girl caught between social classes.
As Mr Doolittle, her father, Terry Brant tried too hard to be funny, rather than playing the character sincerely and letting the hilarious lines and situation do the rest. The torn piece of hat which hung in front of his eyes all through the first scene was totally unrealistic and out of character, and only detracted from the humour of the dialogue.
Mark Poncia, a promising young actor, turned in a polished performance as the arrogant Higgins. he has that ease of manner and delivery which make his appearances on stage very easy to watch.
As the sympathetic Mrs Higgins, Jane Briggs was efficient as usual, and captured the feeling of weight and age more successfully than anyone. Two enjoyable performances came from Pamina Wild and Rosemary Quin as the ridiculous socialites Mrs Eynsford-Hill and her daughter. They were both extremely amusing but always utterly believable.
Good sound work also came from Jane Marsom in the unrewarding part of Higgins’ down-to-earth housekeeper.
Alan Clarke should have realised that it was quite impossible for him to be convincing, even for a second as Col Pickering (Retired – Indian Army), while retaining his shoulder length locks. I fully appreciate the agony involved in cutting off a year’s growth, but even some attempt to brush his hair into a 1904 style would have helped. This lapse was regrettable as I suspect that underneath the shagginess he was giving a sensitive performance in a difficult role.
Sets, costumes and lighting were all satisfactory – as was the very efficient but rather overworked prompter.