The School for Scandal Review

Yvonne Arnaud Theatre – until Saturday 6 April 2024

Reviewed by Heather Chalkley


You would not believe this play was written in 1777 by a playwright hell bent on giving people somewhere to escape to, from the puritanical world they were living in at the time. Little did R.B. Sheridan know that he had penned a play that transcends the ages. I am pleased to say it is still making people laugh whilst having a good jibe at the foppery of the upper classes. 

Fast paced, you need to keep your wits about you to catch all the dialogue. It takes a moment to tune in to the style and tenor of the piece. With 14 characters played by 8 actors you might think this could get confusing. All characters are worth a mention, playing equal parts in this tumultuous, hilarious journey of love and fortune.

Guy Dennys’ Rowley is distinctly different from his Snake, both in moral standing and deportment. Ayesha Griffiths is unrecognisable as the young and innocent Maria in her other role as the wiley dealer Weasel. Tony Timberlake has the added task of pretending to be two other people whilst playing the upright citizen Sir Oliver and then switching to his role as Crabtree, an unconscionable scandal monger. Aided by the slight costume change, the result is hilarious. The poise and assertion Emily-Jane McNeill offers as the queen of scandal is completely different from her relaxed, Jack the lad dealer Careless. Lydea Perkins is hardly recognisable as the vivacious Lady Teazle, when she switches to the final scandal monger member Mrs Candour. The caricatures played balance out perfectly the sincere and ‘good’ people of the piece. The central characters carry you through the story, taking you on their individual journeys, including the roller coaster ride taken by Sir Peter Teazle (Joseph Marcel). Marcel (Sir Peter) delivers this complicated dialogue with great feeling and reality, making the audience laugh even more. The clever characters of the two brothers, Joseph and Charles Surface (Alex Phelps and Garmon Rhys) give you a first class lesson in ‘not judging a book by its cover’, unveiling their true characters to great hilarity in the last scene. 

With a stripped back set, the props are accentuated, playing their part in the tomfoolery, needing perfect timing by the cast to bring the laughs. They do not disappoint. Costumery is used to great effect, bringing the characters alive and making each character distinctly different. 

R,B. Sheridan would be proud to know his most popular comedy from the 18th Century is still bringing laughs in the 21st! A perfect play to escape into out of a mad, mad world.