By George Bernard Shaw
LOS ANGELES TIMES Theater Review by Don Shirley
The chemistry between real-life marrieds Orson Bean and Alley Mills is palpable as they play the married couple in Michael Rothhaar’s staging of Geroge Bernard Shaw’s “Candida” at the Pacific Resident Theatre.
Bean plays the socialist parson who loses most of his glib self-confidence when the young poet Marchbanks (Alexander Enberg) declares that he is in love with the parson’s wife. The shattering loss of security is evident on Bean’s previously glowing features. Mills is convincingly lustrous as the title character adored by both men.
The genuine quality of their interactions helps compensate for the fact that Bean is about 30 years older than the character Shaw had in mind. Still, the ages can’t be completely ignored. The dynamic among the three main characteres presumably would be somewhat different if the parson were closer in age to his wife.
Enberg’s Marchbanks looks like an easily wounded puppy, but he projects the character’s candor and emotional bravado without flinching. The supporting roles are perfectly fine tuned: Paula Malcomson’s snippy secretary (though again because of the casting, it is a stretch to imagine that this character is secrely in love with her father figure employer), Terrence Beasor’s gruff capitalist and Jaxon Duff Gwillim’s young curate.
John Binkley’s intimate set is beautiful lit by Jill Proctor. However, this “Candida” isn’t in the same league as last year’s Shaw in the same space – “Mrs. Warren’s Profession” also directed by Rothhaar. That one dazzled; this one is quietly fascinating while it lasts but theplay seems a bit contrived when its over.
BACK STAGE WEST: Candida At The Pacific Resident Theatre by J. Brenna Guthrie.
After an acclaimed production of George Bernard Shaw’s Mrs. Warren’s Profession last year, Venice’s Pacific Resident Theatre has chosen to follow up with another of Shaw’s more feminist works, Candida which is celebrating its 100th anniversary. As with the playwright’s other works, Candida explores the mores of its time in a way that suggests the coming modern era, but of course with the added charm of Shaw’s trademark wit.
Although the six member cast is faultless across the board under Michael Rothhaar’s direction, the evening truly belows to Mills. Why she hasn’t found more fame and success on the boards of Broadway is beyond me; from the moment she walks onstage she captivates the audience with her beauty and presence. Her Candida is a living and breathing realization of Shaw’s ideal woman. Mills’ real-life husband, Bean, delights in his role as the bombastic preacher (although he’s a bit too old to be truly convincing in the role), and the slight Irish tones in his voice seem a tip of the hat to the playwright. Enberg has a perfectly delightful puppy-dog feel as the young Marchbanks, with a physically demeanor and look that is reminiscent of Robert Downey Jr. at his best.
The supporting cast is no less powerful. Paula Malcomson gives a perfect contrast to the more modern Candida with her slightly Puritan secretary Prosperine. Terrance Beasor gives a fine comedia balance to Bean’s Morell as his puffed up father-in-law Burgess and Jaxon Duff Gwillim is charming in his small role as Morell’s lesser protege.
Set designer John Binkley has created a warm and comfortable Victorian library at PRT’s small black box space and costumer Dara Woods has done a wondereful job with the period look, especially Mills’ beautiful red traveling suit.