Theatre Review: Candide

FIFTY+SA Arts Reviewer, David Jobling, shares his thoughts on Candide - a co-production between the State Theatre Company of South Australia and State Opera South Australia, along with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

This triumphantly amusing production displays a horribly corrupt world masterfully. The zesty, colourful polka-dotted set design by Ailsa Paterson, seemingly endless parade of quirky costumes by Brendan De La Hay matched with simple but splendid lighting effects designed by Gavin Norris provide the weighty style of dressing a satirical operetta like Bernstein’s Candide absolutely revels in.

This is an utterly ludicrous romp where characters are frequently left for dead after terrible events such as war and volcanic eruptions, only to reappear a few moments later, resurrected and recycled to optimistically face a world of absurdly repetitive debauchery.

Power and religion frequently pressure the women and boys into sex slavery which repeatedly ends in the naïve hero Candide (played here beautifully by Alexander Lewis) rediscovering his true love Cunegonde (the show-stopping Annie Aitken) and philosophically returning to their true romance in spite of Cunegonde’s ever dwindling purity and Candide’s diminishing optimism.

The book of the operetta boasts a remarkable cavalcade of celebrated writers, Lillian Hellman, Dorothy Parker, John Latouche and Richard Wilbur plus contributions from Bernstein’s wife Felicia Montealegre and Stephen Sondheim.

The gimmicky style of this production perfectly veils issues that remain as contentious today as they were originally; sugar-coated power, money, corruption, slavery, sexism, biased political interference where it isn’t welcome induces much hilarity as the characters guilelessly navigate a cavernous universally wicked world. Bravo!


Until 25th of May, 2024

Her Majesty’s Theatre, Adelaide


We would like to acknowledge the Kaurna people as the custodians of the lands and waters of the Adelaide region.

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