Pygmalion | Queensland Theatre CompanyLeft – Melanie Zanetti

The Queensland Theatre Company’s production of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion is a wonderfully razor sharp and engaging recreation of Shaw’s characters that sheds fantastic light onto the social and moral commentary so evident in the play. Bringing the setting of the play into the 1950’s breathed new life into the work and made for visually stunning theatre.

Melanie Zanetti was an absolute pleasure to watch as Eliza Doolittle. Her brilliant portrayal of Eliza’s transformation both physically and vocally combined with her comic timing and immediate presence on stage was inspiring to witness. Other standout performances were Robert Coleby’s performance of Professor Henry Higgins – his arrogance and brilliance was deftly communicated – and Chris Betts who stole the show with his wonderfully lucid and larger than life portrayal of Alfred Doolittle. Kaye Stevenson held her own and was perfect as Mrs Higgins.

The vocal performances by all ensemble members were magnificent, the time and expert vocal training provided by Dialect Coach Melissa Agnew was clearly evident and an aural delight to hear sing through each actors’ accent. Michael Gow’s direction brought the text and richness of subject matter in Pygmalion into a new sphere. His interesting choice to have the bulk of the play performed on the thrust of the stage allowed the performance to remain in sharp focus for the audience during the entire play. One detraction however was the introduction of each act through direct audience address. While it did cut through and aid the set changes, it felt a little like the audience needed to have their ‘hands held’ in order for them to understand the scaled back set design.

Design by Stephen Curtis was beautifully simple and succinctly communicated the range of settings within the play. The use of the backdrop/screen/map of inner city London was a fascinating choice and while it was great design, the image did become a bit monotonous by the end of the performance.

Queensland Theatre Company’s staging of Pygmalion is a tantalising, entertaining, funny and thought provoking piece. Despite its postponement due to the floods in January, it is a wonderful highlight to bring in the 2011 season and is assured to leave QTC patrons eagerly anticipating the company’s 2012 offerings.

Queensland Theatre Company presents
by George Bernard Shaw

Directed by Michael Gow

Venue: Playhouse Theatre, QPAC
Dates: 7 – 27 November, 2011