Hall’s acclaimed revival won this year’s Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Award for Best Regional Production, following its initial season last summer at the Theatre Royal Bath, where the director has had an annual summer residency for the past six years.
The play, which was the inspiration for the musical My Fair Lady, tells the now-famous story of Henry Higgins, the arrogant professor of phonetics who makes a bet with his friend Colonel Pickering that he can turn a cockney flower girl into a duchess.
Stars Dockery and Pigott-Smith – who last appeared at the Old Vic alongside Kevin Spacey in The Iceman Cometh in 1998 – reprise their performances in a cast that also features James Laurenson (Colonel Pickering), Tony Haygarth (Alfred Doolittle), Barbara Jefford (Mrs Higgins) and Una Stubbs (Mrs Pearce).
Critics received the "belated" transfer warmly, with a spate of four-star ratings adorning the weekend’s newspapers. Hall’s “exquisite” production was praised for its “uncharacteristically traditional” approach, with the lengthy scene changes and classical staging harking back to a bygone theatrical era. The performances too received universal appreciation, with Dockery’s “statuesque, breathtaking” portrayal of Eliza and Piggott-Smith’s “overgrown schoolboy” interpretation of Higgins going down a treat. Of the supporting roles, particular praise was reserved for Barbara Jefford for lending the character of Mrs Higgins a “wonderful patrician anger”.
- by Theo Bosanquet