Featuring a panorama of extracts from Christian Socialist tracts that propose to benefit the many rather than the few, Simon Daw’s design makes the social context feel timely indeed.
The outside world is kept at a distance in the cosy East End vicarage of the Reverend James Morrell (Martin Hutson) and his wife Candida (Claire Lams).
Tensions arise in the form of a third person in their marriage, the callow Eugene Marchbanks (Joseph Potter), a rich boy posing as an outsider.
The prospect of Candida and Eugene actually having an affair is virtually nil and Miller’s high energy, if sometimes too shouty, production zips along with a bustle of borderline farcical comings and goings, undercut by the cynicism of Candida’s unashamed capitalist father (Michael Simkins).
Among the performances, Martin Hutson is excellent as the earnest, paternalistic embodiment of muscular Christianity, a “talking machine” whose commitments are motivated by vanity as well as a vocation to do good.
The play’s feminist credentials are questionable. Although Candida challenges the child-wife archetype by treating her husband and would-be lover like infants, she is an unconvincing creation who only gets to speak for herself at the end.
If Claire Lams somewhat overdoes the sugariness, she ultimately captures the inequality of a sentimentalised Victorian marriage in which a great man’s achievements are made possible by being protected from the “little vulgar cares” of everyday life.