The Cast and Crew of the Cliff College Production of "Pygmalion" sit in the first few rows of the audience while, on the stage of the Schuyler Theatre, their director-star, Dylan Atkins, tries to inspire them by reading from the Prologue to Shaw's screenplay for the 1938 film:
"Pygmalion was a mythological character who dabbled in sculpture. He made a statue of his ideal woman, Galatea. It was so beautiful that he prayed the gods to give it life. His wish was granted. Bernard Shaw, in his famous play, gives a modern interpretation of this theme."
Dylan closes his book and looks from one face to another. It's difficult to tell whether he is silent for dramatic effect or whether he is just too terrified to speak now that, at long last, his dream is about to come true. But smiles from two faces seem to inspire the impressario-wannabe-- the first from his adorable co-star, Carly Cliff and the second from Karen Archibald, one of his mother's oldest and dishiest friends (an oxymoronic identity, to be sure, and one that plagues him when he can't get her out of his thoughts, even with Carly lying by his side).

With a fervor induced by a massive surge of testosterone, Dylan exhorts his "collaborators" to "Take this stage and make it sing!" A metaphor he instantly regrets when Carly's twin brother, Rad, enlisted to help out, wonders loudly: "If you want it to sing, why not just do "My Fair Lady"? You're using it's happy ending instead of the original, anyway." Carly rises to her director/leading man's/lover's defence by curtly reminding Rad that "Dylan's already explained that he believes the romantic ending isn't necessarily any happier than when Eliza leaves Higgins. And anyway, Shaw, himself, modified it for the original movie version of the play."

Dylan beams at his Eliza with love and gratitude for her support even as Rad glowers at his sister for deserting him to stand by her pretentious boyfriend. And then realizes that he has one last arrow in his quiver. Looking from Atkins to Carly, he remarks, "I guess you're right. What happy ending can there be for a man who's so clearly suffering from a barely sublimated fixation on..." He turns his gaze on Karen to deliver the coup, "...his mother."

Karen just smiles back at the wise-ass kid she's known all his life, apparently unconcerned that he knows what's going on. What's he going to do? Tell McGeorge? She's sure that her husband, who should be getting home right now, would suffer but a moment's annoyance to find out that she's cultivating a relationship with the barely-grown son of old classmates Tom and Melinda.

Dylan, on the other hand, is horrified by the implications of Rad's crack and, blushing beet red, blusters, "That's just about the sickest thing I've ever heard! Higgins does NOT have a thing for his mother! It's all about a woman learning to take control of her own life and then realizing that the freedom to choose is not necessarily an obligation to choose to reject." Dylan's on a roll, now; he adjusts his voice and, though he never takes his eyes off Rad, plays to the whole crowd. And they're riveted. "Eliza's taking the bigger risk by choosing to stay with Higgins now that she knows how difficult it will probably be. Making a committment and taking responsibility are much more brave than running away from them. But I suppose you'll just have to take my word for that..."

With which he turns away from Rad and walks across stage. Carly leads most of those present in applauding the leader who realizes that this spontaneous scene was much more effective at rallying his troops than would've been the pep talk he had planned. He crumples his dreary, cliché-ridden notes into his pocket and calls to the others, "C'mon. Let's get to work."

Carly springs to Dylan's side on stage and, with a rustle of script pages, everyone else checks to see where she/he belongs. Even Karen gets to work, setting gels into spotlights. Only Rad stays in his seat to slump down and watch Dylan Atkins stick his tongue down Carly's throat before turning to answer the many questions being asked of him.


Previously at the Schuyler Theatre