Candide Shrinks to Fit

the goodman theatre tends its own (miniature) garden.

Candide @ the Goodman Theatre.

Like the recent production of The Comedy of Errors at the Court Theatre, the Goodman Theatre’s current revised revival of Leonard Bernstein’s Candide revels in a casual amateurism, expertly delivered.

As Voltaire’s optimistic title character explores this farcical “best of all possible words,” director Mary Zimmerman offers us dinky, summer-camp props in place of fully-staged spectacle: small boats on sticks and handheld waves portray epic journeys, painted canon balls on poles convey bloody wars, and little red sheep dolls from the land of the Incas are the play’s greatest treasure.

The reduction in scale results in an enlargement of theatrical magic: the storytelling grows more evocative precisely by leaving more to the imagination. The sense of clever innovation reinforces the seriousness of Voltaire’s farce, which undercuts grandiose hopefulness without giving up all hope.


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