Candida is a woman fully caught up in running a large, busy household, which revolves around her husband, a popular socialist preacher. As the play begins, a young poet has fallen in love with her and wishes to remove her from what he sees as her demeaning and unromantic role as household commissar. Candida's two men reveal themselves to be limited, amiable dolts, while Candida is a woman of ravishing charm and penetrating intellect who deftly and effortlessly puts them both in their place. It's funny and bracing. If this is Shaw's answer to Ibsen's A Doll's House, which tackled roughly the same territory, but tragically well, Shaw totally cheated. If Candida actually existed the way Shaw created her, she'd have ended up prime minister, not happily brushing the lint off the Reverend Mr. Morell's greatcoat.
All the actors function smoothly in this production, and the pretty jewel-box set and bandbox costumes are delicious. Most notable is Teri Clark Linden, a perfectly gorgeous Candida with her incandescent smile, musical voice, and taut body alert to every actor's smallest movement. Shaw, of course, loved to wring meaning from accents, and it's a pity some of this production's weren't a little more carefully honed (maybe they will be eventually: I saw this performance in preview). Maybe using accents at all is a wasted exercise;
they can't convey to an American audience the enormous wealth of class information they would convey to a British one. Otherwise, it's a clever, pretty period piece.
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