Compared to the increasingly commercialized Off-Broadway landscape, the 35-year-old Jean Cocteau Repertory at the 132-year-old Bouwerie Lane Theatre maintains an old-fashioned sense of community amongst its actors and audience.
A repertory company, one where select actors perform together regularly, is a dying art in American theater. At the opening of “Candida” on Wednesday, the artistic staff even shook hands with regular subscribers.
Using small casts and minimal stagecraft, the company presents about five productions each year of classics by Ibsen, Shakespeare, and other authoritative playwrights. George Bernard Shaw’s Shaw’s “Candida” is the season’s third play following “Mother Courage” and “Medea.”
A witty examination of the modern roles of husband and wife, “Candida” is one of Shaw’s most easily digestible plays. That it is less demanding theatrically than perhaps “Heartbreak House” or “Man and Superman” works to the company’s advantage.
Though not superlative, the six-actor ensemble, under director Michael Halberstam, performs with sincerity. Danaher Dempsey stands out as Marchbanks, a confused 20-year-old, while several others awkwardly use artificial accents and depend on gestures.
This “Candida” lacks the liveliness of Shaw’s “Mrs.’s Warren’s Profession” starring Dana Ivey, now at the Irish Repertory. Still, it remains a satisfactory, generally likable production.
Bowerie Lane Theatre, 330 Bowery, 212-279-4200, $40-50; Wed 7pm, Thurs-Sat 8pm, Sun 3pm.
According to Lincoln Center's new LCT3 project at its slogan, it takes "New Audiences for New Artists." It also takes new critics, hence the establishment of Theater Talk's New Theater Corps in 2005, a way for up-and-coming theater writers and eager new theatergoers to get exposure to the ever-growing theater scene in New York City. Writers for the New Theater Corps are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the off-off and off-Broadway theater scene, learning and giving back high-quality reviews at the same time. Driven by a passion and love of the arts, the New Theater Corps aims to identify, support, and grow the arts community, one show and one person at a time.