The storyline may be somewhat hard to stomach, but his glorious score easily carries the evening.
The picaresque plot follows the wanderings of the eponymous young man who, thanks to the tutoring of philosopher Pangloss, retains the belief that everything happens for the best – despite consistently encountering war and destruction, rape and natural disaster in his travels from Westphalia to Cadiz via Lisbon and Paris and from Buenos Aires to Venice, via Montevideo and Surinam.
Along the way, characters die and reappear, a one-buttocked Old Lady joins him on his journey and David Thaxton’s pompous Maximilian pops up all over the place in a variety of guises, until, finally, Candide is reunited with his beloved, if shallow, Cunegonde (a deliciously bauble-besotted and thrillingly voiced Scarlett Strallen) and the company joins in a cautious note of realistic optimism in Make Our Garden Grow.
Matthew White’s production is sometimes just too busy, but Adam Cooper manages to fit balletic choreography into a small space, Fra Fee’s Candide sings like an angel, and there’s more than enough wit in the multi-authored lyrics to make this exuberant revival well worth catching.
When: Until February 22, 2014
Where: Menier Chocolate Factory, 53 Southwark Street, SE1 1RU
Tickets cost £29.50-£39.50 (Meal deals cost £37.50- £45.50)
For more information on Candide at the Menier Chocolate Factory, click here.