Here’s a head-scratcher for you. A woman of humble origins and dogged ambition seeks to elevate her station in life. To do so, she enlists the services of a well-established gentleman, who may just have the method to favorably shift her status. When at last she lays claim to her newfound self-possession, he dismisses her role in her own success, balking at her impudence and hurling insults her way (brandishing the smear “guttersnipe” in place of the now ubiquitous “nasty woman”).

Are these the makings of period musical theater set in amusing, bygone times — or a cautionary tale for any woman within reach of a hard won spot at the top? Either way, it makes for meaty and marvelous musical fare in My Fair Lady, the Svengali-esque star turn by the composer/lyricist duo Lerner and Loewe. It now takes the stage of Woolfe Street Playhouse in a loverly, lissome new production by the Village Repertory Company, directed by Keely Enright.

Village Rep’s treatment is a trim take on the beloved Broadway show that first wowed the Great White Way in 1956. Presented in the round at Woolfe Street, its spare stage juts into the room, with the audience flanking its three sides, peppered with a few select set pieces. The similarly pared down instrumentation under the musical direction of Leah Magli features two pianos facing one another upstage. An economical cast of 10 involves many actors playing multiple roles, with some crossing gender. For those patrons who go for the glitz in musical theater, the sparkling, soigne costumes by Julie Ziff introduce plenty of eye candy.

Given the size of the space, these are sound choices. They are also choices that provide a close-up on the words beyond those big musical numbers that most of us crave, from “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” to “Get Me to the Church on Time.” And, as the spawn of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, the work is and should be driven as much by the politics of language as by its stirring score. The compact space, musical direction, and cast does suppress the potential for full-tilt dance numbers (here, they are smaller and frequently involve the actors circling the stage or engaging in low kicks or pratfalls). For me, this minimalism made way for further reflection on the ongoing battle of the sexes that is at the heart of the material.

Those captivating, ever congenial show-stoppers and the magnificent precision of its words, words, words come together to illustrate just how timeless and timely is its central theme of a woman advancing. Eliza Doolittle (Mary Fishburne) is a curbside flower peddler in London with a career-killing Cockney accent. She strives to better her lot by mastering speech suitable for a job in a flower shop. When she collides with a smug, starchy linguist by the name of Professor Henry Higgins (Scott Thomas), Eliza spies access to the language and leg up she needs to become shop girl material.

For Higgins, Doolittle’s transformation is little more than an intellectual dalliance, good sport for him and his chum Colonel Hugh Pickering (Bradley Keith). His own mother, Lady Higgins (Robin Burke) chides the two, “You’re a pretty pair of babies playing with your live doll.” For Eliza, however, it’s a way out of a grim and grimy life, complete with a louche father (also played by Burke) who grubs her meager earnings to wet his whistle.

For the audience, Eliza’s transformation is theatrical catnip. It’s a sheer pleasure to bear witness as the soot-stained, mewling wretch emerges as a well spoken, well-heeled hit of the London social season. This metamorphosis is made resplendent by the considerable charms and tremendous vocal talents of Fishburne, a deceptively slight leading lady who goes from gutter to glamour with equal parts grace and command. A pivotal and utterly gorgeous moment occurs with “The Rain in Spain,” when Eliza finally “gets it,” and her music and language conspire to deliver the sublime.

As Higgins, Thomas serves fitting foil, peevishly, exasperatedly waving away any signs of Eliza’s humanity as if she were some mild irritant. To counter his bracing disregard for Doolittle and the rest of womankind, Keith’s Colonel Pickering provides warmth and equanimity, while Burke’s Lady Higgins weighs in with wise remonstrance, made more loaded still by the gender-blind casting of the role.

With its winsome yet willful protagonist, brilliant score and all-around effervescence, My Fair Lady is certain to please those seeking an entertaining, energetic evening of musical theater. The pitch-perfect resonance of Village Rep’s production may also move audience members to consider anew how the plight and triumph of Eliza Doolittle persists still.

On that note: Anyone who glanced at the ever-churning national news this past week would have likely come upon the Hamilton kerfuffle, and the ensuing debate over whether or not the actors should have used the stage to make their political appeal. Of course, we seek theater to entertain and enthrall us. However, more importantly, since we humans first came together to act out our stories, theater has served as the place where we grapple with the truths of our days and our lives, and where we learn to uphold those truths that may or may not be self-evident.

After all, Eliza and Henry’s clashes are fixating and funny because they are true. So yes, let’s tap our toes, root for Doolittle, shake our heads at Higgins, and have a good laugh over the calamity that happens when classes and sexes collide. But, let’s also make space for what Shaw in Pygmalion was driving at. As Eliza declares, “If I can’t have kindness, I’ll have independence.” Surely we can all benefit from that message, with a little bit of bloomin’ luck.