A review by Vanessa Bunn for EXTRA! EXTRA!

 

CandyKing Productions presents

 

CANDIDA

 

by Bernard Shaw

 

Directed by Maria Chiorando

 

Greenwich Playhouse

 

31 May 2011 – 26 June 2011

 

The audience walks in on the action already taking place in this rousing new production of Bernard Shaw's Candida. Proserpine Garnett (Provence Maydew) types frantically next to a brimming waste-paper basket in a comfortable office suite, designed by Harriet Orrell, which provides the scene for all the activity that follows. In what is usually considered to be a drama hinging on a ménage a trois, Miss Garnett maintains a prominent role as fourth potential love interest and ardent admirer of both her employer and his wife, which adds an interesting dimension. Reverend James Morrell (Keith Hill), striking society man and husband of  Candida, (Helen Bang) is thoroughly engaging and commands the stage at almost every turn in a persuasive performance. James is married to Candida, the church, and his socialist interests, and at times he struggles to find a balance between all three commitments. Candida briefly returns to London from a summer trip and shines as the enigmatic pillar of the action. As the drama unfolds she becomes embroiled in a tug of love between her husband and one of his naïve “discoveries”, Eugene Marchbanks (Peter Rae), who she has taken back with her.

Twenty-five year old Eugene is perhaps a little too pathetic in this production to represent a convincing rival for worldly and self-possessed Candida's affections. Eugene convinces as a member of high society and appreciator of and contributor to the Arts, but next to the robust characters of James and Burgess (Donal Cox) he cuts a hapless figure who does not endear. In a role most famously played by a young Marlon Brando, the Eugene in this production is too childish and inept to inspire anything but platonic affinity, which negatively affects the climax of the action. Reverend Mill, or Lexy as he is referred to, is as overwhelming as Eugene is underwhelming, his enthusiasm unrelenting and overstated. Candida's father, Burgess, is a much more engaging zealous character and much less morally upright. His scoundrel tendencies and concerned reactions add comedy to the drama whenever he is present. The comedy in this production of Candida is subtle but consistent, and there is some excellent chemistry between characters thanks to Hill as James, Cox as Burgess and Maydew as Miss Garnett, who provide the majority of comic turns through dynamic interaction.

There are no sound effects and use of music is minimal in the production; jazzy pieces set the mood at the opening and interval. This works to its advantage, making the drama more immediate in the same way that walking in on the action in the opening scene and after the interval facilitates. Lighting, by Philip Jones, is subtle and sophisticated. An updating of the setting to the 1940's is described as a homage to the Ealing Comedies. The reasoning behind this is not quite clear and the time zone is not especially well rooted in the action, as the only truly tangible influence is in Catrin Dudfield’s costumes, and the music.

CandyKing's production of Candida provides a welcome opportunity to see one of Bernard Shaw's more rarely performed, thematically rich dramas in the intimate setting of the Greenwich Playhouse.

 

 
020 8858 9256
boxoffice@galleontheatre.co.uk
www.galleontheatre.co.uk
Greenwich Playhouse
Greenwich Station Forecourt, 189 Greenwich High Road, London, SE10 8JA
£12, £10 concessions
Tues – Sat 7.30pm, Sunday 4pm
 
 

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