‘CANDIDA’ REVIEWS: A FRESH LOOK AT SHAW

cremin-diasSue Cremin, who has the title role in ‘Candida,’ with TRTC artistic director John Dias after Saturday’s opening-night show. Below, former ‘Cosby Show‘ star Geoffrey Owens, right, returned to the TRTC, where he starred in ‘Opus‘ earlier this season, and ran into former ‘Frazier‘ star David Hyde Pierce. (Click to enlarge)

hyde-pierce-geoffrey-owensEarly reviews of the Two River Theater Company‘s new production of George Bernard Shaw’s ‘Candida‘ find it a fresh take on a play that made its debut in 1898.

Star-Ledger theater critic Peter Filichia says the Red Bank production nears its conclusion with a moment of suspense, something not usually associated with the play’s author.

And Asbury Park Press reviewer Tom Chesek (who also writes for redbankgreen) says director David Staller “has revealed a play that’s actually contemporary at heart.”

From the Sledger:

The eminent playwright’s comedies usually bring out adjectives such as “intellectual,” “prescient” and “pedagogical.” However, “tension-filled” is rarely, if ever, applied.

Yet the way director David Staller staged the last scene of “Candida” so quieted the audience that one must drag out the cliché that includes the words “hear,” “pin” and “drop.” Would Candida, the lovely patrician wife of the Rev. James Morell, leave him for the much younger and better-looking Eugene Marchbanks?

“Candida” takes place in 1895, when cougar only meant a member of the cat family. Yet Staller makes this Candida seem as if she could make a radical choice just as readily as the safe and expected one. Will she? Won’t she?

From the Press:

And what of Candida, that obscure object of desire who’s called upon to make a choice between the two men? As penned by Shaw and personified by [Sue] Cremin, she’s no coy coquette — even if she does “want to be amused” in a teasingly casual moment with her poet pal. Neither a swooning Gothic heroine nor a scheming Zezebel [sic], Mrs. Morell is an entirely unglamorous, take-charge type with a parent’s patience and a partner’s pragmatism — the kind of character that another writer might have cast as “the governess.” Her almost wholly unphysical relationships with Marchbanks and Morell (the characters in this comedy barely lay a finger on each other) are hardly a game, even if she maintains the upper hand throughout.