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Talk pretty

By by dianna wray/dwray@vicad.com
May 16, 2011 at 12:16 a.m.
Updated May 18, 2011 at 12:18 a.m.


Can a flower girl become a lady? Way back when, you might never have thought this was an actual question, but obviously, you aren't British.

If the fact that Kate Middleton, a commoner, married the decidedly not-so-common Prince William, is still making you scratch your head from a class structure point of view, then you need to go to the Alley Theatre in Houston. They're putting on George Bernard Shaw's play "Pygmalion."

The play tells the story of Professor Higgins and his attempts to pass Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle off as a lady.

You see, you may think Brits can be classified as a little conscious and snotty now (Oh my gosh! Kate Middleton is a commoner. Her millionaire parents - shudder - work! Aren't those Royals getting open minded?), but they were way snottier back then.

Shaw wrote the play for Mrs. Patrick Campbell, a famed actress of the time with social pretensions and a pseudo-Shakespearean way of talking guaranteed to keep her from having tea at Buckingham Palace or ever becoming a really great actress.

The play features Higgins as a sarcastic, grumpy hero of phonetics, with the feisty Eliza thrown in. Shaw hoped that a more natural talk would would knock the affectation right of Mrs. Patrick Campbell. The result was one of Shaw's funniest and most accessible plays.

Yeah, yeah, it's the play the musical "My Fair Lady" is based on, and the musical even incorporated a lot of the Irish playwright's original dialogue, but Shaw is worth seeing for himself, minus "Wouldn't it be Loverly" and all of the oh-so-very-nice trappings that still take away from the sheer dizzying artistry of a right fine play.

But don't take my word for it, go check it out yourself.

The show is in previews starting Friday with an official opening May 25.

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