The School for Scandal at the Park Theatre
Set in London in the late 1700s, The School for Scandal has been revived with all the charm and outrageous comedy that is to be expected from this Richard Brinsley Sheridan classic.
Jessica Swale’s direction is playful and dynamic: her awareness of the space in the brand new Park Theatre is apparent in the cast’s complete use of the stage. She has them consistently playing to all angles of the audience, confidently engaging with the people sitting around them. Adding music to the play could have resulted in something rather corny, however Swale uses just the right amount to match the overall farcical tone of the show. Having the actors themselves play the instruments is also a fun touch.
The cast delivers an array of hilarious caricatures, with Buffy Davis as Mrs. Candor and Michael Bryher as Benjamin Backbite, who particularly steals the show. The energy of the entire cast is what really brought this play to life. With not a flat moment to speak of, the outrageous antics of the characters are incredibly enjoyable to watch when delivered with such liveliness. The actors’ interaction with the audience is another feature that could have backfired into something banal. However they do it with such charm that the audience has no choice but to laugh.
Everything about this rendition of The School for Scandal matches the extravagance of the play’s infamous characters. All actions are delivered with a flourish. The excellent timing of Swale’s direction has the slapstick and silliness working to perfection. The Red Handed Theatre Company has truly embraced the absurdity that makes this play great. The ridiculousness of the characters and plot is handled with irony and a healthy dose of self-deprecation from all.
This play has everything you could want from a Sheridan comedy. The cast is smooth and cohesive, delivering confidently outrageous slapstick with excellently clever timing. The absolute outrageousness will have even the most serious audience members laughing until the very end.
The School for Scandal is at the Park Theatre until 7th July 2013. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.