queensland university of technology brisbane australia a university for the real world

GARDENS THEATRE

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Presented by QUT Precincts for the Creative Industries Faculty

Pygmalion

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We are all born naked, the rest is drag.

RuPaul

How far would you go for a makeover?

All Eliza wanted was a few voice lessons so she could talk like a lady and get a job in a flower shop. Professor Higgins had another idea. He didn't want her money; he wanted her total devotion.

Bernard Shaw's comedy has tantalised, scandalised and delighted audiences since its premiere in 1914, when it produced, at seventy-six seconds by the hands of the stage manager's stopwatch, what may well be the longest laugh in British theatrical history. The first-night audience incapacitated themselves with laughter as the words "Not bloody likely" fell like a bombshell from the lips of Eliza Doolittle, the flower girl transformed into a duchess by Henry Higgins's science of speech.

Based on the classical myth of Pygmalion, a sculptor who falls in love with the statue of a woman he has made, in Shaw's modern interpretation the 'creation' doesn't fall in love with the creator. Believing her life will be changed for the better, Eliza, at first, allows Higgins to mould her into his vision of a lady: dress her up, change her voice and tell her what to say and when to say it – all to win a bet with his colleague Colonel Pickering. But Eliza is no passive marble statue. She is a fiercely independent woman who, with growing unease, comes to realise that she doesn't want to be buffed and polished and admired. When Higgins wins his bet, Eliza understands the trap she is in.

This new production, set in contemporary London, blows the dust and romantic clichés off the play to reveal Shaw's beloved dark comic masterpiece anew*.

*Hint: it's nothing like My Fair Lady.

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