The Shaw must go on: Two River Theater Company offers up four nights of previews for George Bernard Shaw’s CANDIDA beginning Tuesday.
By TOM CHESEK
First of all, it’s pronounced CAN-did-uh. Say it like Can-DEE-dah, and you’re referencing a 1970 hit by Tony Orlando & Dawn. Or you could be talking about a yeast infection.
Speak it as intended, however, and you’re stylishly dropping the name of a sharply written comedy classic that represented an early success for the great George Bernard Shaw. The centuries-spanning, Nobel Prize (and Oscar) winning, Irish-born wit and human rights champion was last seen on the stage of the Two River Theater with a topical (if threatening to topple) production of Heartbreak House a couple of seasons back. Beginning with the first of four preview performances on Tuesday night, Two River Theater Company puts on a Shaw once more, with a major revival of the 1898 Candida.
The new TRTC artistic director John Dias inherited this project in which the strong and supportive wife of a respectable clergyman must make a choice between her husband and a passionate young poet who enters her life when he took over the creative reins last September. Master facilitator that he is, Dias set about matching the play to a director who, more than anybody else in the business, has kept the soul and wisdom of “G.B.S.” readily accessible on our cultural GPS.
As the founder of NYC’s Gingold Theatrical Group, the actor-producer-director David Staller initiated a little undertaking called Project Shaw a mission by which every one of Shaw’s full-length plays, skits, one-acts and puppet shows would be performed (often with all-star casts and sometimes for the first time in the United States) as a “concert” style reading. Having successfully presented all 65 of them (and having turned right back around and started up all over again), Staller has arrived at station stop Red Bank to direct Sue Cremin, Steven Skybell and Will Bradley in Two River’s Candida and it was there that the redbankgreen Drama Desk caught up with this expert on all things Shavian.