Bay Theatre Company produces a solid production of George Bernard Shaw’s Candida, although the play and Shaw’s turn-of-the-20th-century dialogue may seem like a long letter in a Twitter world. At times, you’d like them to just get to the point.
The Rev. James Morrell (Carl Randolph), a popular preacher often called upon to lecture about his socialist views, is happily married to Candida (Vanessa Morosco), his very practical and supporting wife. He is ably assisted by his secretary, Prossy (CeCe McGee) and his curate, Lexy (Jared Mercier). Early in the play, Candida’s father, Mr. Burgess (Joe Cronin) drops in to visit. The couple’s comfortable life is unsettled when their young poet friend, Eugene Marchbanks (Dan Stowell) tells Morrell that Candida deserves better and professes his love for Candida. The two men then circle and challenge each other until they have a confrontation before Candida and make her choose between them.
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The show is well cast and each performer turns in a solid performance. Stowell excels as the young romantic and adds great comedy to his scenes. He is the perfect combination of exuberant puppy with oversized paws and foppish romantic poet in a handsome young figure. He shows great timing and delivers some incredibly ridiculous lines in complete earnest. Morosco makes a good foil as the older, wiser woman who is able to seem both mother and romantic interest to the young man. She ably transitions to the more mature, devoted wife of the pompous Rev. Morrell and back again. Randolph delivers an excellent portrayal of the arrogant, pompous yet charismatic preacher. McGee also does well as the stern, Victorian secretary who briefly loses her brusque façade to the enticing poetry of the young Marchbanks.
Once again, Bay Theatre provides excellent off-stage support for the production. Director Lucinda Merry-Browne is quite gifted at making good use of limited space. Despite the small stage, the performers keep the show moving without it ever feeling stagnant. Merry-Browne maintains her eye for detail with many excellent period details. Set Designer, Ken Sheets presents another beautiful set. From the appropriate and warming fireplace to the mock paneling on the walls to the wood flooring, every detail makes the set feel like a pastor’s den. Costume Designer Jill Kyle-Keith did an outstanding job providing period clothing for the actors including distinct class differences between the secretary, Prossy and the lady of the house, Candida. The only mild objection to the costumes was that the Rev. Morrell was wearing somewhat anachronistic pleated trousers. the uncredited props master did a fine job filling the show with period pieces including Prossy’s period typewriter and the nice quill desk set for Morrell.
This production sold out on a Sunday afternoon early in the run, so, especially for those who love G.B.S., best to make your arrangements early. It has the charm of a personal handwritten letter. You can Twitter later.
By George Bernard Shaw
Directed by Lucinda Merry-Browne
Produced by Bay Theatre
Reviewed by Ted Ying
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