What is it about French farce? After seeing Moliere and now Voltaire at the Shakespeare Theater, at least I understand why the French love Jerry Lewis. And apparently, G loves French farce, but not Jerry Lewis … Odd.
When I first heard that a musical version of Voltaire would be on the schedule this season, I was skeptical, to say the least. But Candide was sharp, witty and funny. Probably a tad long at 2:45, but clever and worthy of Voltaire. The costumes were lush. The staging and transitions between scenes were well-done and creative. Led by a Candide who oddly reminded me of Owen Wilson with his floppy blonde hair and clueless earnestness, there were several hysterical touches of physical comedy, including a great slow-motion fight between Candide and Maximilian.
Of course, you can also see why Candide got Voltaire into trouble with the authorities – who doesn’t he skewer? Voltaire reserves special treatment for theater critics, and religion is a particular target – in his El Dorado, there are no churches or religion (shocker for the 1700s!), and people there worship science.
Come to think of it, that really *is* a fantasy world …