Shaw was interested in concepts and in this play, written 1894, he uses the context of a seemingly ideal Victorian marriage to raise ideas about our behaviour and beliefs, about knowledge and control and about how we present and deceive ourselves and others. Although it was written over a hundred years ago, questions about what we hope for and expect from others, about the tensions between dependence and freedom, about what we say and conceal, are just as relevant today because they are about the behaviour of human beings.
Towards the end of the 19th century, women were starting to give voice to the notion of equal rights with men. In a highly patriarchal society this must have seemed a new idea to many and would have challenged many accepted norms of living and behaving. Then as now, playwrights used what was happening in society at large to comment on and reflect that society back to people. Not long before Shaw's play was written, Henrik Ibsen had famously explored the notion of men treating their wives as property and inferior creatures. In his play A Doll’s House his heroine notoriously rebels and leaves her husband. Hugely impressed with that work, Shaw borrowed the theme and turned the idea around. In Candida he makes us look, sometimes uncomfortably, at the notion of a man and a woman in a situation where the control issues are somewhat different from what might often be pretended.
What are you hoping for when you go to the theatre, especially if it is to see a classic play?
I think I still hope, mainly, to be entertained; taken out of myself for a couple of hours. Not much makes me laugh, though I still like to, and I like theatre that makes me think and sometimes challenges, provokes or moves me. Sometimes I hope I might learn something.
And sometimes I can sit in an audience and feel that I have somehow received something special and unexpected from a performance – an affirmation or an insight that was not anticipated.
Sometimes I can be surprised; and I hope you will be by this play of Bernard Shaw's.
In this fairly short work he examines a man and wife and a day in their life that lays bare some of the secrets within their marriage that might normally have gone unspoken. Many singular questions are raised. Is it better to voice the dynamics that are really at the heart of a relationship or to keep quiet and just let it run? What does it do to us when the persona we present to the world is challenged and broken down?
What happens to us when we think we want something passionately only to discover that we don’t? And what might provoke such disquieting honesty?
One of the main reasons I have always loved being in plays is because of the way a hugely diverse group of people, with all their different talents, skills, temperaments, opinions and passions get together to create a whole. Not a sentimental person, I nevertheless find that idea moving.
It has been my enormous privilege to direct here at Lewes Little Theatre and I cannot thank everybody involved with this production enough. At every turn I have been met with support, enthusiasm, effort and kindness.
I hope you will feel my wonderful cast and backstage team do justice to this subtle, complex and intriguing play and thank them for their work. Kirrily Long, John Whitley, Mike Truman, Barry Smith, Sandy Truman and Lewis Reid (making his debut at LLT) do justice to this subtle and intriguing play.
Lyndsey Meer, Production Director