George Bernard Shaw revisited


It made quite an impression in the 1890s, but has the play aged well? My review of “Candida” at the Orange Tree:

If this had been Ibsen, heaven knows what might have happened. Would the lovelorn teenage poet who falls for the wife of a clergyman have stormed out to drown himself in a north London duck pond? Quite possibly.

In the world of George Bernard Shaw nothing is quite so serious. Nevertheless, his portrait of a sudden crisis in an apparently serene marriage caused a stir in the 1890s, and his admirers will be grateful to the Orange Tree’s artistic director, Paul Miller, for reviving another of his early works — Candida is the fourth in recent years.

It’s certainly stylishly acted. Simon Daw’s set, studded with Christian-socialist texts (even the floor bears their imprint), makes the most of the intimate, in-the-round space. Still, seeing the cast trying to breathe life into the painfully brittle dialogue is like watching someone performing CPR on a body that has spent far too long in the depths.

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