George Bernard Shaw wrote the engaging comedy Candida at least partially as a response to Ibsen's A Doll House, about an intelligent woman's attempt to break out of her husband's determined treatment of her as a "child wife." Here, Shaw sketches a woman, Candida (Molly Leland), who infantilizes her clergyman husband by protecting him from exposure to harsh realities. But the tale is told with so much charm that this aspect of the play often goes unrecognized. Rev. James Morrell (Casey E. Lewis) adores his wife, Candida, and proclaims himself "the happiest of men," until the hypersensitive young poet Marchbanks (Michael Uribes), who also loves Candida, tells her husband that he's a pompous windbag unworthy of his wife's love. Marchbanks challenges Morrell to let Candida decide to which of them she belongs. She replies, with understandable anger, that she belongs to herself.
Director Andrea Gwynnel Morgan has mounted an elegant and funny production. Leland neatly captures Candida's wit and generosity, while Lewis effectively depicts a man who's forced to realize that his strength and authority are largely his wife's creation. Uribes' Marchbanks is accurately but broadly played, and the supporting cast is excellent on Aaron Morgan's handsome, lovingly detailed Victorian set.
Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 7 p.m. Starts: Feb. 16. Continues through March 11, 2012
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