Saturday, September 10, 2016

Shattering the Glass Slipper at My Fair Lady

Do I really want to take my 9 year old daughter to see a musical about human trafficking? That's what it boils down to. 

The lavish 60th Anniversary Production of My Fair Lady, directed by Dame Julie Andrews is stunning - the costumes are amazing, the sets like a pop-up story book, each more incredible than the last, the singing and choreography will knock your socks off! 

When Professor Henry Higgins takes Eliza Doolittle to the horse races at Ascot I'm blown away - the cast are all dressed in a black and white kaleidoscope of M.C. Esher-esque couture, topped off with a milliners fantasy of hats in all shapes and sizes. Instantly, I think of my daughter, the little girl who sits up in bed at night drawing ream after ream of fashion plates - Oh! I can't wait to bring her to see this fabulous show, I think!

But, from the minute I start thinking of Charlotte, the glass slipper bubble of Disney delight is shattered. How can I possibly bring her to see a musical which is, undeniably, about human trafficking? Whether or not Eliza Doolittle is a willing participant, the exchange of £5, the Victorian equivalent of a year's rent, has my feminist antenna erupting like a radio active Geiger counter. 

Poor Eliza, for all her bravado in 'Just You Wait', singing:
"When you yell you're going to drown, I'll get dressed and go to town!"
By the time she sings 'I Could Have Danced All Night' with that doe-eyed look on her face - she's doomed! She's gone and bloody fallen in love with Professor Henry Higgins, it's like watching Princess Leia fall in love with Jabba The Hutt!

Still, the romantic in me longs for the fairytale ending - surely the Professor will sweep her off her feet and carry her into the sunset? Love conquers all!

NO! What am I thinking?? My conscience backhand slaps these irrational thoughts and reprimands me sternly - how on earth can I wish this intelligent, hard-working, enterprising girl to end up with this spoilt, chauvinistic scoundrel? What sort of moral compass am I demonstrating for my daughter, pursuing such mawkish thought bubbles?

And what of Eliza's role models? The sponging alcoholic father who recommends giving her the strap if she doesn't do as she's told, the absent controlling step-mother? Poor Eliza, she wouldn't even have been able to cast a vote into a ballot box, let alone strike out alone, she was a woman living in a time with limited choices...

Yes, the production is stunning - all of it! - but most of all, the ending. 

I wonder if Dame Julie Andrews was just a teeny tiny bit tempted to change the ending? I wonder if she secretly contemplated a new millennial twist to the Pygmalion plot? 

But no, I doubt that crossed her mind, she is after all a Dame Commander of the British Empire, one of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II BFFs. She is a battleship of established society, faithful to old guard and the stiff upper lipAs polished and poised as the remodelled Eliza Doolittle herself.

I've decided I can't wait to take my daughter to see My Fair Lady, and I'm going to take my son too, and then I'm going to sit down and have a jolly good discussion with them afterwards, perhaps over cucumber sandwiches and Twinings earl grey tea with lemon. There's a lot to talk about.

The 60th Anniversary production of My Fair Lady is playing at the Sydney Opera House until 5th November. Starring Alex Jennings, Anna O'Byrne, Reg Livermore, Robin Nevin, Tony Llwellyn-Jones & Mark Vincent.

I'd love to know, what production have you taken your children to see, or are looking forward to sharing with them?

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Happy Father's Day!

My father looks a bit like Owen Wilson in this picture, don't you think? It was taken in 1976 when I was just two years old. The weird thing is I do actually remember the photo being taken - and that's because I was given the WORST TOY EVER to hold for the picture, the photographer picked it out for me to hold because it was a monkey that had a yellow waistcoat on that matched Mum's jumpsuit. 

I was terrified of that toy, I totally hated it, but Mum told me to "Just pretend you like it for the photo!". Mum was always doing stuff like that, she never wanted to put anyone out. 

So before I could protest the monkey was plonked in between my legs and Mum said "Taa Daa!" trying to get us all to smile while the flash went off - POP! POP! POP! - you know those cool 1970s camera flashes that looked like an ice cube tray of burnt out bulbs?

Of course Mum was the only one in the family with the photogenic gene so she always looked fabulous when the magazine came out, Dad and I on the other hand usually looked like stunned nocturnal animals about to be shot between the eyes. 

So... Happy Father's Day Dad! A brief happy snap of our Little family - before I looked down and saw the EVIL MONKEY staring at me...


Question: Did you have a toy you were scared of when you were little? 

Photo credit: Jason Scragz

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