Pygmalion

In this Seattle Shakespeare Company production, director Jeff Steitzer readily accepts that Pygmalion has its own Hollywood baggage: The stage lights rise to the strains of "I Could Have Danced All Night" from My Fair Lady. Then playwright George Bernard Shaw (A. Bryan Humphrey) strides onstage to stop the music and launch his rather more droll comedy in motion instead. As you know: Petulant linguist Henry Higgins (Mark Anders) bets his pal Col. Pickering (R. Hamilton Wright) that he can transform bedraggled flower girl Eliza Doolittle (Jennifer Lee Taylor) into a genteel lady capable of mingling with the aristocrats. Their course is a bumpy one, because although Pickering treats Eliza as a lady (no matter her social standing), Higgins sees humanity as a parade of simpletons worthy only of experimentation and study. What makes this a tale worth telling yet again is Steitzer's mischief with the material. Not only does Shaw keep returning to hasten along his two-and-a-half-hour comedy of manners, but there's a distinct Monty Python vibe. Crucially, in a play where class difference is signaled—and enforced—by linguistic nuance, the cast puts over the various British accents, from Cockney to Oxbridge. There are so many ways that a show like Pygmalion can go wrong. This one gets all of them right. KEVIN PHINNEY (See Kevin's full review.)

Thursdays-Sundays. Starts: Feb. 23. Continues through March 11, 2012

 
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