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“High-energy revival of early bernard shaw”

Candida is the fourth early George Bernard Shaw play to be presented at the Orange Tree Theatre by Paul Miller since 2014.

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.

Paul Miller: ‘Theatre needs constant infusions of new blood’

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Production Details
Production nameCandida
VenueOrange Tree Theatre
StartsNovember 22, 2019
EndsJanuary 11, 2020
Running time2hrs
AuthorGeorge Bernard Shaw
ComposerElizabeth Purnell
DirectorPaul Miller
Fight directorSam Behan
Set designerSimon Daw
Lighting designerMark Doubleday
Casting directorSarah Murray, Vicky Richardson
CastClaire Lams, Kwaku Mills, Martin Hutson, Michael Simkins, Sarah Middleton, Joseph Potter
TechnicalStuart Burgess
Stage managerJenny Skivens
ProducerOrange Tree Theatre
VerdictHigh-energy revival of one of Bernard Shaw's more dated plays
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Julia Rank

Julia Rank

Julia Rank

Julia Rank

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