Luigi Pirandello might have written Tonight We Improvise for the Chichester Festival Theatre, but since he did not, it was an inspired choice by Keith Michell, the artistic director, to have chosen the play for production. Peter Coe, director, uses every theatrical trick and device. One must congratulate him and the whole company, both on and off stage, on a superb production, but there I must stop.
Don't ask me what it was all about — I really don't know. The "improvisation" was so clever that I was lost. What had Pirandello written, which was the play within the play within the play . . . Peter Coe's improvisation and Keith Michell as the director within the play, were so good as to destroy the play within the play, and if you don't know what that means I must confess 1 am not sure myself, or whom one should blame, but it certainly all went on for far too long.
June Ritchie, after a tenminute soliloquy, finally collapses and dies, and some of the actors look for a doctoi among the audience. I had some sympathy with the lady sitting near to me, who exclaimed: "It isn't a doctor you need, it is an undertaker for the play!"
After being regaled for years with both the stage and film versions of "My Fair Lady," it was surprising to be informed that the new production of Pygmalion at the Albery Theatre, is the first in the West End for more than twenty years. It is all the more welcome and in no way suffers from our familiarity with the musical, for it is such a magnificent play.
The performances, the production, the setting, the costumes, of this production, match the brilliance of Bernard Shaw's writing. I am lost for words to describe Diana Rigg's performance as Eliza, especially in the first half of the play, it is truly superb, and Alec McCowen's Professor Higgins is a perfect match. I must also give special mention to Bob Hoskins as Alfred Doolittle and Ellen Pollock as Mrs. Higgins, though one and all should be praised. You must see "Pygmalion" at the Albery Theatre if you enjoy good theatre.