mon 08/08/2022

The School for Scandal, Barbican Theatre | reviews, news & interviews

The School for Scandal, Barbican Theatre

The School for Scandal, Barbican Theatre

All the sound and fury in the world fails to turn a Sheridan comedy into an epic

Social graces: Alan Howard delights as the elderly cynic Sir Peter Teazle

"There’s no possibility of being witty without a little ill-nature,” preaches the Gospel according to Richard Brinsley Sheridan. What the playwright omits to mention, however, is that it is possible to be ill-natured without in fact being terribly witty, a flaw that proves almost fatal for Warner’s acerbic, alienated new production of The School for Scandal. Overstyling Sheridan’s most stylised of comedies, Warner turns what Hazlitt described as the most “finished and faultless” play into a mass of tensions, exaggerations and contradictions. The result can be exhilarating in the moment, but wears off into confusion and a slight headache.

"There’s no possibility of being witty without a little ill-nature,” preaches the Gospel according to Richard Brinsley Sheridan. What the playwright omits to mention, however, is that it is possible to be ill-natured without in fact being terribly witty, a flaw that proves almost fatal for Warner’s acerbic, alienated new production of The School for Scandal. Overstyling Sheridan’s most stylised of comedies, Warner turns what Hazlitt described as the most “finished and faultless” play into a mass of tensions, exaggerations and contradictions. The result can be exhilarating in the moment, but wears off into confusion and a slight headache.

It's all rather stylish, but also rather familiar

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Comments

That's a pretty fair review - you should warn people to get there early for the pre-curtain show as well! I thought this production rang lots of contemporary bells for our age of Twitter, celebrity journalism and super injunctions as I explain here: http://www.charliebeckett.org/?p=4469

An excellent review of a problematic production. There's much to enjoy, but it gets a bit lost in morasses of time in which, particularly in the first half, you wonder when the play is actually going to get started. Then at the end, it's all resolved far too neatly. Despite all that I had a good night out. Howard and Shrapnel are excellent, but Leo Bill steals the show as Charles - as you rightly inimate.

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