The School for Scandal, Barbican, dir Deborah Warner, design Jeremy Herbert
Sparkling. For brilliant wit and repartee you can’t beat a good restoration comedy and they don’t come much more sparkling than The School for Scandal. Delicious names: Joseph and Charles Surface, Lady Sneerwell, Candour, Backbite and Mr Snake, say it all. The play is perfect for our celeb-orientated, obsessive lives driven by gossip, glossy magazines and the minutiae of people’s lives. The production plays to our sound-bite, urban-driven age with projected lines from the play; with contrasted costumes, props, in the most perfect anachronistic clash of contemporary and eighteenth century. Sir Oliver Surface tests his two nephews, Charles and Joseph, as to virtue and truth; Sir Peter Teazle, Alan Howard, argues with his wife, while she craves greater independence; and surrounding them all are the gossips who tear and pull down any shred of decency. Great performances, particularly Leo Bill as Charles, John Shrapnel as Sir Oliver, Alan Howard as Sir Peter Teazle, Katherine Parkinson’s Lady Teazle; provocative design, Jeremy Herbert, and faithful direction to Sheridan’s classic, Deborah Warner, make this a breath of fresh air. Scintillating….