Quick Picks-CANDIDE at Goodman

October 6, 2010 at 9:50 pm Leave a comment

You may have seen ads for the Goodman season opener on literally every taxi and bus in the city.  They’re mixing the artistry of Leonard Bernstein, Voltaire, and Mary Zimmerman for a new look at the enlightenment text which was transformed into an operetta in 1956.  The satire lampoons the philosophical treatment of optimism against all the garbage present in the world.  This holds true as much now as it did then.  The piece fails to match the extreme hype, however, getting sucked down by the heavy chunks of plot.  Candide, here played by the bright-eyed Geoff Packard, travels/is kidnapped/escapes to at least three continents and a myriad of locales.  There is a ton to cover, and one begins to wonder by intermission if Zimmerman was too faithful.

Act Two has a completely different energy, one that is much quicker and fascinating to watch.  The final moment is truly transformative theatre.  The brilliance doesn’t shine through in every cranny of the script or production, but it is peppered throughout the whole show.  The cast is delightful, with Goodman regular Larry Yando being particularly memorable.  Packard can gloss over some crucial moments in Candide’s struggle with optimism, but he keeps us plugged in for the whole night.  Most importantly, we walk out knowing a little more about the nature of happiness, and maybe understand a bit about humanity in general.

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