Candide: Theatre review - 'At once spine-tingling and spiritually unearned'
Menier Chocolate Factory, London
Tuesday 03 December 2013
Matthew White directs an ebullient in-the-round (and in-your-face) revival of this endlessly rewritten operetta but it doesn't solve any of the problems that have perennially beset it.
Bernstein's score is a miracle of sparkling comic pastiche; the lyrics (by several hands) are unflaggingly droll. But Voltaire's satire against the complacency of philosophical optimism is basically one joke taken on a picaresque global tour of disaster spots and religious iniquities.
White's cast (which includes Scarlett Strallen as a rather heavy-handed Cunegonde) sing up a storm and revel in the delicious guying of absurd literary conventions.
It's a pity, though, that the production reverts to Hugh Wheeler's 1973 book which is a one-damn-thing-after-another romp unlike John Caird's 1999 NT rewrite which tried to impose some unity on the proceedings by introducing Voltaire as puppet master.
James Dreyfus is in fine form as a gamey, disreputable Pangloss. Fra Fee brings a sweet tousled soulfulness to the naïve hero.
But the repetitiveness and the musical lurches between knowing mock-flippancy and plangent lament deterring emotional engagement.
And so here the climactic “Make Our Garden Grow” chorale manages to feel at once spine-tingling and spiritually unearned.
To 22 February 2014; 020 7378 1713
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 2 Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing
- 3 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 4 Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations
- 5 Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him not to convert to Islam, letter reveals
The Interview makes £9.6m in online rentals and downloads in a matter of days
Diana West End play 'suggests James Hewitt could be Prince Harry’s father'
Game of Thrones named most-pirated TV show of 2014
Exodus: Gods and Kings banned in the UAE over 'religious mistakes'
Marilyn Manson breaks silence on Lana Del Rey rape clip: 'I wouldn't make a video of that nature'
Millions of Britons struggling to feed themselves and facing malnourishment
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Nigel Farage: Ukip leader named 'Briton of the year' by The Times
Douglas Carswell tells Ukip to stop blaming foreigners as youth poll shows Nigel Farage is even less popular than Nick Clegg