January 31, 2012 - George Bernard Shaw
Pygmalion will be a name familiar to you from the Course and the Introductory Pack, in which our own “Prof” parodies Professor Higgins’ outburst when Eliza Doolittle approaches him to give her lessons in good English speech and pronunciation. The name of Shaw’s wonderful and witty play is the name of an ancient Greek king, who was also a famous sculptor and created a female statue so exquisitely beautiful that he fell in love with it, whereupon Aphrodite, the goddess of love, took pity on him and breathed life into it.
There have been and continue to be countless stage, radio and film performances of the play, which is of timeless popularity. Do go to a live performance if you can, as it is a marvellously stage-worthy play, but whether you manage to see it on stage or not, we strongly recommend you to watch the superb black-and-white-film of 1938, featuring Leslie Howard, Wendy Hiller and Anthony Asquith – unless you have broken your ribs, in which case your laughter would be much too painful! You will also find that our own Andrew Havill bears an incredible resemblance to Leslie Howard in that film. And do buy the text as well. Both the DVD and the text are inexpensive and remarkably good value for money (and the Penguin Classics paperback text we recommend does not subscribe to Shaw’s eccentric and obsessive refusal to use apostrophes, which is very tiresome even if genius can be forgiven almost everything!).
You may also enjoy the musical My Fair Lady based on the play. The film version we recommend features Rex Harrison as Professor Higgins and Audrey Hepburn as Eliza.
Pygamalion ‒ DVD of superb 1938 film version of the play – very highly recommended!
Pygamalion: A Romance in Five Acts ‒ paperback text (Penguin Classics)
My Fair Lady ‒ DVD of the 1965 stage musical