A vivacious Georgian comedy with modern and musical twists, The School for Scandal is sure to leave you crying with laughter. As soon as you enter the auditorium you are intrigued by the simple yet effective set, created by Simon Kenny. The play begins with a clever, intricate musical number, composed by Laura Forrest-Hay. The use of thrust staging means that the audience are plunged straight into the time period. There is an engaging contact with the audience which is maintained through the entire performance with great energy, including one scene with Charles Surface and Careless, played by Harry Kerr and Charlie Tighe, where the characters were singing their drunken songs to the women in the audience. Every member of the cast was phenomenal, giving classic, unique performances. Kirsty Besterman’s Lady Teazle, Tom Berish’s Joseph Surface and Michael Bryher’s Sir Benjamin Backbite were, in my opinion, the best performances of the night – their interactions with the audience were flawless and they made their characters shine perfectly.
The director, Jessica Swale, did a fantastic job, working with the staging around the auditorium and on stage. She managed to take Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s classic text and make it refreshing and engaging, with the action never falling flat. Swale added modern twists to the story which will take the audience by surprise and end up in some hilarious moments. The comedy itself was priceless, with the company owning the language with confidence, and delivering their lines and actions with perfect timing, leaving the audience in stitches. The set consisted of three boxes with mirrors, which would be lit up from behind to show people or pieces of set. Simple elements like this grabbed my attention and made the performance a lot more intriguing. As well as singing, some of the company played instruments, too, which added comedy elements at some point (such as Benjamin Backbite opening the second act with his ukulele) as well as building a quirky character to the performance.
Fi Russell’s costumes were absolutely stunning, keeping to the Georgian style, and bringing colour and life to the stage. She created every costume based around each character using a variety of colours and patterns, and I usually found myself staring at the detail on the coats and dresses in amazement. With the beautiful costumes, the stunning set and the fantastic cast, The School for Scandal is a hilarious production you don’t want to miss.
The School for Scandal is playing at the Park Theatre until 7 July. For more information and tickets, see the Park Theatre website. Photograph by Nobby Clark.