Review: School for Scandal, Theatre Royal, Bath

This Is Wiltshire: GRANT GILLESPIE as Sir Benjamin Backbite, MAGGIE STEED as Mrs Candour and SERENA EVANS as Lady Sneerwell in The School for Scandal GRANT GILLESPIE as Sir Benjamin Backbite, MAGGIE STEED as Mrs Candour and SERENA EVANS as Lady Sneerwell in The School for Scandal

FOR CENTURIES audiences have been entertained by Richard Sheridan’s The School for Scandal, and Royal Theatre Bath’s current showing, directed by Jamie Lloyd, leaves no mystery as to why.

First performed in London at Drury Lane Theatre in 1777, the comedy is set in 18th Century London among the wealthy with little to do but gossip.

Act one opens with Lady Sneerwell, a wealthy young widow, and her servant Snake discussing her various scandal-spreading plots including trying to get between a young couple. She then welcomes in an array of characters including Sir Benjamin Backbite and his uncle Crabtree, whose sheer excitement for the spreading of scandal throughout the play brings humour and energy.

Spoken in old English, I found the opening act hard to follow at times, particularly when lines were delivered quickly.

Edward Bennett and ex-Eastenders star Nigel Harmen give sterling performances as Joseph and Charles Surface, brothers whose reputations are not all that are portrayed.

Susannah Fielding threw herself into the role of Lady Teazle, a young woman who marries an old bachelor leading her to develop a love for fashion and luxury as she is doted on by the lovesick gentleman.

Overall this classic comedy shows that scandal has been around for centuries, and is always a giggle. This performance of it was well put together and acted superbly with tons of energy.

The production runs until July 21

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