Constantia actors in Pygmalion at Masque

Pygmalion cast: Ron Carr - bystander, Richard Higgs - Professor Higgins, Sonika Gerber - Clara Eynsford Hill, Jane Cohen - Mrs Eynsford Hill, Ryan Store - Freddy Eynsford Hill, Wendy Morling - parlour maid, Laurie Todes - Eliza Doolittle, Alistair Duff - Mr Doolittle, Eve Carr - Mrs Pearce, and Aubrey Hindle - Colonel Pickering.

Stage fans who know the 1963 musical My Fair Lady will surely enjoy the simpler, minimalistic production of Pygmalion.

George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion opens tomorrow, Friday March 8, at The Masque Theatre in Muizenberg which turns 60 this year.

A number of Constantia valley residents who are members of the Muizenberg Dramatic Society (MADS) are taking part.

Constantia retiree Diana Thom has 16 years experience acting and directing at The Masque Theatre and 20 years in Britain directing pantomimes. She is chairman and production secretary of the show.

She said audiences will recognise and enjoy the cockney girl Eliza and the indomitable Professor Higgins who they will remember from My Fair Lady, the musical version of Pygmalion.

“I think audiences will enjoy the comedic elements of the play,” said Ms Thom.

She said the play is directed by Sue Wilkes of Lakeside and the cast has some well-known actors who have appeared on The Masque stage many times.

The two main characters are Eliza Doolittle, played by Laurie Todes of Claremont, and Richard Higgs of Mowbray as Professor Higgins.

Sandy Gee of Kommetjie plays Mrs Higgins and was in Pygmalion in 1976 in Natal taking the role of Eliza.

Pygmalion plays on the complex business of human relationships in a social world.

It opens with two linguists, Professor Higgins and Colonel Pickering.

They place a bet on whether Professor Higgins can transform the life of flower girl Eliza Doolittle by helping her learn to speak proper English rather than her cockney dialect, but also improve her manner.

The end result is a ladylike Miss Doolittle, but the lessons learnt for all the characters, become much more far-reaching.

Sonika Gerber of Kirstenhof plays Clara Eynsford-Hill who is fed up with all the rules of proper manners for her class and enjoys Eliza’s inappropriate conversation and thinks it’s the modern way of talking.

Clara and her mother are reasonably wealthy women who are always together and represent two stages of what Shaw calls “genteel poverty”.

They represent everything that Eliza is not: they’re clean, well-dressed, and well-spoken. They start the plot going when they ask Eliza if and how she knows Freddy Eynsford Hill.

By the third act, the family isn’t doing so well; they are on the decline while Eliza is on her way up, and they are all headed for the same, uncomfortable middle ground… or at least middle class.

In her day job Ms Gerber is a project manager at a software development company. “Apart from MADS, I enjoy being involved in the community, such as Good Hope Toastmasters, Bergvliet Methodist Church and I’ll soon host a foodie talk show on Hashtag Radio,” she said.

Apart from church plays, speeches at Toastmasters and being the MC at friends’ weddings, Ms Gerber is a newcomer to the theatre stage although she was part of the After Ever After play at The Masque last year.

Ryan Store of Bergvliet plays Freddy Eynsford Hill and falls in love with Eliza. He has performed in various inter-house plays at Wynberg Boys’ High, including Hamlet and The Crucible when in matric.

Eve and Ron Carr of Plumstead have been involved with theatre for about 20 years. Ron started out in musicals with Fish Hoek Dramatic Society, with Eve working backstage. Now it is the other way around with Ms Carr playing the part of Mrs Pearce.

They have since been involved with many dramatic societies, with Ron’s high point having been in My Fair Lady with the Gilbert & Sullivan Society at Artscape some years ago. “Which is ironic when you consider that that production is based on this play,” said Ms Carr.

Ms Carr has been seen in many Masque Theatre productions, most recently in the three-hander, The Decorator, but perhaps most notably in 2016’s Grease where she sported a beehive and did not utter a word.

Ms Thom said first timers at The Masque Theatre will enjoy the welcoming, delightful, friendly ambiance.

The show runs until Saturday March 16. Bookings can be done at Computicket or or call 021 788 1898.