Patsy Ferran and Bertie Carvel star in the Old Vic Theatre’s revival of George Bernard Shaw’s play.
Broadway World: *** “On paper this show is a hit; in reality it feels like a missed opportunity to create something really special.”
The Guardian: *** “The play’s more ancillary characters are in some ways the most entertaining, especially Eliza’s dustman father, Alfred Doolittle (John Marquez), who sends up middle-class morality and sounds like a proto-Marxist. Eliza’s besotted suitor, Freddy (Taheen Modak), is entertaining, too, with his gurning smiles and bunches of flowers.”
Evening Standard: *** “I can’t think of another stage actor who changes as radically for each role as Carvel but his tour de force here left me impressed but unmoved. Ferran has a versatility of a different order. She’s proved herself a transfixing dramatic actress in recent years but first wowed London audiences as a wobbly maid in Blithe Spirit, stealing the show from Angela Lansbury. This performance reminds us she’s got truly funny bones.”
The Arts Desk: ***** “The third great performance comes from a brilliant Jones regular, John Marquez, as Alfred Doolittle (pictured above). Confidently owning the most resonant and musical voice of the evening, this Cockney makes the most of the Welsh roots Higgins detects as an eloquent orator, to which Marquez adds a dash of Spike Millgan-esque lunacy. The father who’s never really looked after his resourceful daughter shows where her natural talents come from: these are clever birds of a feather.”
WhatsOnStage: *** “All in all, it’s an incredibly frustrating evening, a wasted revival of a play that for all its old-fashioned notions, still speaks resonantly – and impeccably – to the modern age.”
Time Out.com: *** “Jones has everyone moving constantly around the whole stage, so the production always looks busy, ants under a magnifying glass. But he’s doing to ‘Pygmalion’ what Higgins does to Eliza: treating it like an experiment. We’re left with an exercise in ‘Pygmalion’ which, for all its detail, forgets about the heart, the humour and, crucially, the humanity.”
London Unattached.com: “This is a glorious show, remarkably witty and smart, featuring some memorable performances and sharp social commentary, catch it if you can.”
Theatre Weekly: “One significant drawback is the pacing. The production drags in some early scenes then again in its final scenes, testing the audience’s patience and potentially diluting the impact of the resolution. While Bertie Carvel as Higgins and Patsy Ferran as Eliza deliver enjoyable performances, we all know these two exceptional actors could have been pushed further. Taheen Modak shines as Freddy Eynsford Hill, but this character isn’t as prominent as it is the musical adaptation so we don’t get to see as much of Modak as we would like.”
iNews: **** “There is immense power in the stillness and simplicity of the Higgins/Eliza showdown after she has won his bet for him; Ferran, now transformed into a woman of notable stillness and self-containment, asks her teacher, quite reasonably, what is to become of her now that she can no longer serve as his professional plaything.”
The Stage: ** “Patsy Ferran shines in a frenetic and conceptually incoherent production of Shaw’s classic.”
Lost in Theatreland: **** “Though the play itself is quite dated, it does bring up interesting and relevant conversations about the association of dialect, class, and intelligence, as well as morality and class. The notion of affording morals, or even forced morality once you rise up into middle class, is certainly something that has not been left in the 1930s.”
The Telegraph: *** “Patsy Ferran is a brilliant Eliza Doolittle – but this flamboyant production undercuts the key message of George Bernard Shaw’s classic.”
Pygmalion continues to play at the Old Vic Theatre until the 28th October 2023. To book tickets click here.