Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw

Published:  20th October 1994 (print)/1st August 2009 (audio) Goodreads badge
Dover Publications/Naxos Audio
Pages: 82/2 hrs and 36 minutes
Narrator: Anton Lesser, Lucy Whybrow, Geoffrey Palmer and cast
Format: Audiobook
Genre: Play
★   ★   ★ – 3 Stars

Professor Henry Higgins, a linguistic expert, takes on a bet that he can transform an awkward cockney flower seller into a refined young lady simply by polishing her manners and changing the way she speaks. In the process of convincing society that his creation is a mysterious royal figure, the Professor also falls in love with his elegant handiwork.

I adore the movie My Fair Lady which is the film version of this play and I loved that now having finally read the play on which it is based that it is virtually the exact same story. The main differences are the play brushes over a few scenes which are expanded in more detail in the film that might have only been a passing reference. This doesn’t take anything away from the play it was a curious observance, but from a production point of view it makes sense to limit your set locations.

Another comforting and familiar piece is Henry is just as much of a pig, even though Shaw has Henry admit he’s like that, and have other characters point out his issues, I can’t understand why he is so horrible. His selfishness and arrogance still make me want to punch him in the face.

Other than that, I do love this story a lot. It is also a great play to experience as an audio because I got the different voice actors in my ear and while I had their voices I could picture Rex Harrison in my mind. I loved how the different accents and components of the story came to life it was like I was listening to the movie.

One of the parts that always resounded with me was when Eliza asks Henry what she is meant to do with herself now he’s finished with her. She has been made into a lady without a skillset to actually work in society as a “proper lady” and she is deemed too posh to return to where she’s come from. I felt it trapped Eliza into becoming reliant on Henry. Not to say they couldn’t remain friends, but he’s rebuilt her into someone she doesn’t know how to be and expects her to manage.

Which brings me to something I will never understand, where the romance element comes from in this play. I can maybe see Henry falling for Eliza and becoming reliant on her because he laments missing her, in his own way, and after all that time together you would grow accustomed to one another, but this I would not class as romance, even in 1927. Henry is too much of a pig and abusive for Eliza to want to be with him, she says so enough times. Good company and companionship might be the best they can give one another, with Colonial Pickering popping over occasionally as a third friend.

You can purchase Pygmalion via the following

QBD | Booktopia | Book Depository

Dymocks | WorderyAngus and Robinson

 Fishpond | Amazon | Amazon Aust | Audible

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