Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

A theatrical transformation

cast of pygmalion

Jessica Schneider as Eliza, Matthew Bartlett as Professor Higgins and Rock Salt as Col Pickering


The Nonentities

The Rose Theatre, Kidderminster


THE Nonentities seem to be on a quality roll with this seasons productions, now bringing George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion to life, with a superb attention to detail in both the performances and staging.

For those that only know the romanticised film adaption of My Fair Lady, it will be something of a surprise as to how Shaw’s vision of the transformation of a young uneducated  girl into a woman with a sense of strong feminine independence stays true to the era of women gaining equal rights.

Henry Higgins is a phonetic professor and has a bet with his friend Colonel Pickering to transform a cockney flower seller Eliza Doolittle into a duchess by language training and general deportment.

Higgins and Pickering are played by Matthew Bartlett and Rock Salt respectively and both deliver their roles flawlessly with genuine enthusiasm and care. Mr Bartlett was especially convincing and built so much energy into his performance his words seemed more conversation than script.  

This was matched in the robust, polite, character portrayed by Mr Salt and I could not help thinking, as the play progressed, that this pairing worked so well together that they would make a great Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson.

Jessica Schneider played the part of Eliza, the flower girl transformed into a society jewel. She was excellent and relished the diverse extremes of her character from the common cockney lass into the well-bred, well-spoken lady. In keeping with Shaw’s original she also keeps the right balance in requiring respect for her gender right until the last word.

Another solid performance was Stanley Barten as Eliza’s father who was called on to negotiate some difficult monologues and raised some deserved laughter with his explanation of the working class and his humorous take on his daughter and his life.

There were also good supporting performances from Hilary Thompson as the housekeeper Mrs Pierce and Sandy Tudor as Mrs Higgins

Special mention should go to the costume department in the guise of Jen Eglington and Lynn Ravenhall as the cast were fully resplendent in a display of gowns and period wear that greatly added to the atmosphere of the performance.

The set too was well conceived featuring some simple revolving stage scenery designed by another Mr Higgins, Keith this time. The transformation of the scenes was made by the supporting cast after each act and this was covered by some clever audio to keep the action flowing.

Similar to Eliza’s transformation it takes more than dressing and fakery to make a convincing theatre impression. From the original barrel organ opening to the lavish costumes, set and performances this production could sit on any stage in the country and no one would believe it was amateur. To 16-05-15

Jeff Grant


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