Pygmalion @ Oran Mor
Transposing the famed Bernard Shaw play to Edinburgh is problematic, and sadly, a risk that more often than not doesn’t pay off. Despite a few nice touches such as Eliza selling “floowurs” in the centre of the audience, the direction by Liz Carruthers is a little lacklustre. Condensed to just fifty minutes, the dramatic exposition feels as strained as a lady in that pesky corsetry of the era.
Sandy Nelson, who adapted this for PPP, has three roles as an underwhelming Colonel Pickering, Henry Higgins’ mother (cheap laughs in semi-drag) and, better, a commanding, lairy Alfred Doolittle, Eliza’s father.
Steven MacNicol’s Henry Higgins is one-note, full of empty bluster and little nuance. His accent too, wanders from Morningside to Maryhill- ironic, given the play’s theme of language and social climbing.
Only Rebecca Elise’s Eliza Doolittle brings real verve to the production- she tackles the shrill flower-seller’s transformation to lady with bounce, comic timing and vulnerability upon realising she is little more than a social experiment. Fair play though, for incorporating the ugly misogyny and snobbery of the era - with the great lines of Higgins’ at the beginning: “I will take this guttersnipe and make her a lady - the English mangling of their own language make it inaccessible even to them.”