As I said on a previous review this production ‘is really more about the transformation of Higgins than of Eliza. We see the physical change in Eliza, her learning how to behave differently but in essentials she is little changed at the end. In Higgins we see a change inside of his values and how he relates to people and his outlook, the Higgins at the end is much changed.
Alex Jennings is a different Higgins to Jonathan Pryce but he has made the role his own and fits it perfectly. He was excellent creating a very likable character despite his abruptness and seemingly uncaring for others feelings. He sees nothing wrong with the way he blunders through expecting everyone to take him just as he is. As he says he treats everyone the same therefore no one person should take offence as it isn’t personal to them. His characterisation left nothing lacking and his Higgins was definitely the confirmed old bachelor but with a personality which had some spark which would endear Eliza to him despite the way he treated her. His was a performance which I could willing watch again as his Higgins was very interesting and you feel you could find out more with each visit His final realisation of what he has lost is contained in the last word of ‘I’ve grown accustomed to her face’ He says ‘face’ in a sad defeated resigned way as he realises what he truly feels for Eliza and that she has gone. He put the record on to hear Eliza as she was originally and when he heard him self say ‘she’s so deliciously low, so horribly dirty’ he physically flinches at the idea of how he spoke and what he said . The arrival of Eliza gives him that second chance thought he had lost.
Katie Knight-Adams was a worthy adversary to Alex’s Higgins and she was excellent. She has a beautiful voice and created a very realistic and likeable Eliza from the rough cockney lass to the lady with a bit of cockney forever under the surface. I especially liked her in the early scenes in Higgins house where she spoke to him and the Colonel as though they were just someone from the market and this brought out a sparky personality. She had Alex created a great chemistry and the relationship that developed was very believable.
Malcolm Sinclair was the other confirmed batcher ‘Colonel Pickering’ and Malcolm’s Colonel was a wonderful old charmer, and very endearing with his concern and affection for Eliza but at the same time one of the old boys club with Higgins. He and Higgins complemented each other to create the realistic friendship.
Peter Prentice was the suitably silly Freddy with little idea of the real world and believing pages and pages of letters would provide the stimulus of love for Eliza. He sang ‘On the Street where you live beautifully’ and had such a lovely clear voice.
There was strong support from Dennis Waterman as her ‘ever lovin father’ , he was excellent, playing the role his way and not as a typical Doolittle personified by Stanley Holloway, Caroline Blakison as Mrs Higgins and Jill Martin as Mrs Pearce.
The whole company was strong bringing the East end of London and the characters in Higgins and Eliza’s life to life making this a very enjoyable afternoon and the only thing I need now is to see the show again : )
PS: which I did in December but have yet to see Joanna Riding !
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