Sunday, 8 July 2012

The School for Scandal

'The School for Scandal' was first performed in 1777, and I have to say that some parts of it have worn rather better than others. Last night's prodution was well done, but not entirely to my personal taste.
The play is not subtle. We open with Lady Sneerwell and her accomplice, Mr Snake, who carefully explain to each other their nefarious plot. All of the characters have names which clearly telegraph their defining  (when you have a character named 'Sir Benjamin Backbite' or 'Lady Sneerwell'  None of the actors could be accused of under-acting, or allowing any undue subtlty to creep into the performance. Of course, this is very much down to the text itself, and once you adjust to an almost pantomimic level of ham the play is quite entertaining.

I enjoyed the performances of Edward Bennett and Nigel Harman, as Joseph and Charles Surface, respectively - and of Susannah Fielding as the spendthrift and pleasure-seeking Lady Teazle - in fact, the majority of the actors were excellent - but I got a little bored with the text. Which is, I suppose, Sheridan's fault, and not that of the company!

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