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Theater review: 'Candida' at Flight Theater at the Complex

February 23, 2012 |  2:40 pm

"Candida"Think of it as “Downton Abbey” with a higher IQ. George Bernard Shaw’s tart 1895 comedy “Candida” plays as a cautionary tale and a guilty pleasure — scandalous behavior by the properly dressed. And though Chrysalis Stage’s overeager revival at the Flight Theater doesn’t do this charmer many favors, Shaw’s wit still outpaces the average Hollywood romcom by an English country mile.

When he isn’t preaching socialist reform, the Reverend Morell (Casey E. Lewis) dotes on his fetching wife, Candida (Molly Leland), the daughter of an unrepentant capitalist (Robert Harlan Greene). But after an awkward young aristocrat (Michael Uribes) professes his love for the lady of the house, the Reverend’s well-argued certainties melt away. Is this happily married man the last one to know the true feelings of his spouse?

Unfortunately, director Andrea Gwynnel Morgan pushes production toward broad comedy, blunting Shaw’s sharper insights. Lewis and Leland have the requisite Shavian chops, but any nuance they might bring feels quashed by the show’s forced tone. Uribes’ truth-telling, socially phobic nerd appears drawn from the catalog of Johnny Depp’s more mannered performances. Everyone seems to be playing to a much larger house than the Flight’s intimate space. 

Despite the shortcomings of this staging, Shaw’s wisdom of the heart lives on: Even as the years pass, your significant remains other. Matthew Crawley, you have been warned. 

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-- Charlotte Stoudt

“Candida” Flight Theater, the Complex, 6476 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 7 p.m. Sundays. No performance Sunday, Feb 26. Ends March 11. $20. Contact: www.chrysalisstage.com Running time: 1 hour, 45 minutes. 

Photo: Molly Leland and Michael Uribes. Credit: Aaron Morgan. 

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