Candida: breezy and fast-moving at the Perth Classic Theatre Festival..

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Candida, at the Perth Classic theatre. : Photo Jean-Denis Labelle.

By George Bernard Shaw, Classic Theatre Festival.Directed by Laurel Smith

George Bernard Shaw considered his 1895 domestic comedy Candida one of his Plays Pleasant. In part an ironic antidote to A Doll’s House, Henrik Ibsen’s 1879 drama about a woman’s fate in a male-dominated society, Candida also offers an indirect reference to Shaw’s own background. (His mother left his father for her musician friend.)

The title character of his comedy is asked to choose between her somewhat pompous clergyman husband and the 18-year-old aristocratic poet who adores her, is horrified that she helps with household chores — and sends her to sleep with his poetry. The poet has shaken the minister’s confidence in his domestic contentment , particularly when he returns home to find Candida and the young man in cosy repose by the living-room fire. But her decision is not difficult, says Candida, as she chooses the weaker of the two men.

As directed by Laurel Smith, the Classic Theatre Festival production of Candida is breezy and fast moving and the Victorian era is underlined by the intended clutter of Roger Schultz’s set and Renate Seller’s costumes.

While the characters tend to be stereotypes — the idealized wife, the spinster secretary yearning for her employer, the roguish businessman, the nervous poet and the speechmaking socialist — the cast develop characterizations that do much to create individuals.

William Vickers, clearly having fun with the role as Candida’s scoundrel of a father, is a particular delight,. Dana Franklin, as Candida, is all charm and warmth, with Anna Burkholder as the barking, stiff secretary Miss Garnett, as her counterpoint.

The complete contrast between Jeffrey Aarles as the Reverend Morell — driven, idealistic but insecure — and Sean Jacklin as the foppish, velvet-clad poet Eugene Marchbanks — nervous, but determined and sure of his love — is equally effective.

The Classic Theatre Festival production of Candida continues in Perth to August 13, 2017.

 

Director: Laurel Smith

Set: Roger Schultz

Lighting: Wesley McKenzie

Sound: Matthew Behrens

Costumes: Renate Seller

 

Cast:

Miss Prosperine Garnett…………………………Anna Burkholder

Rev. James Mavor Morell……………………….Jeffrey Aarles

Rev. Alexander Mill…………………………….Fraser Elsdon

Mr. Burgess……………………………………..William Vickers

Candida………………………………………….Dana Fradkin

Eugene Marchbanks…………………………….Sean Jacklin


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