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Red Bull Theatre's THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL is a hit!
THEATER | Review: ‘The School for Scandal’ Is Full-Throated Satire
By LAURA COLLINS-HUGHES APRIL 27, 2016
They’re delectably venomous, these two: dear Lady Sneerwell, industriously inventing gossip, and her friend Mrs. Candour, so diligently spreading it around. The main trouble, always, with Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s spirited satire “The School for Scandal” is that we don’t get enough of them.
But they are played to such delicious perfection inRed Bull Theater’sjaunty new production, directed by Marc Vietor at the Lucille Lortel Theater, that I wish I could beg Sheridan for a spinoff.Frances Barber’sLady Sneerwell, all acid words and narrowed gimlet eyes, is the ideal companion to Dana Ivey’s Mrs. Candour, who’s as innocent as a poisoned sweet.
“I confess, Mr. Surface,” Mrs. Candour says, addressing a young gentleman, “I cannot bear to hear people attacked behind their backs; by the bye, I hope ’tis not true that your brother Charles is absolutely ruined?”
Alas, there is truth to that report of the good-hearted but profligate Charles (a charming Christian DeMarais) — and though there’s plenty of fabrication in other rumors about him, it’s his older brother, Joseph (Christian Conn), who is living a lie. An oily rogue masquerading as a moralist, he has convinced nearly everyone of his unimpeachable character.
That includes Sir Peter Teazle (Mark Linn-Baker), a guardian to the brothers since their father’s death. An old fool, Sir Peter has no idea that his much younger wife, Lady Teazle (Helen Cespedes), is involved in a flirtation with Joseph, who also has designs on Sir Peter’s ward, Maria (Nadine Malouf). She, in turn, loves Charles — an affection that Lady Sneerwell is determined to derail with lies penned by her associate Mr. Snake (Jacob Dresch), whose green coiffure (byCharles G. LaPointe) is in tune with his toxicity.
In this busy, fizzy plot, the truth of various matters emerges only with the arrival from abroad of Sir Oliver Surface (Henry Stram), the brothers’ wealthy and generous uncle, who has never lost faith in Charles’s worthiness.
First staged in 1777, the play mostly holds up; scandal, clearly, has always been with us. But Sir Peter, who does a great deal of complaining about his wife’s spending and the misery of marriage, was probably a lot funnier back in the day. It’s harder to land those jokes now, and Mr. Linn-Baker seems, perhaps consequently, a little wan.
Not so Ms. Cespedes, who lends Lady Teazle a radiant mirth and a surprising depth. Mr. Stram, too, is delightful — and comically ebullient when Sir Oliver has cause for joy.
One brief moment in this production made me recoil. A poet, Sir Benjamin Backbite (Ryan Garbayo), and his uncle, Mr. Crabtree (Derek Smith), part of Lady Sneerwell’s circle, are savaging a woman’s appearance when Sir Benjamin says that she has “teeth la Chinoise,” and does a nasty little mime to illustrate.
Lucille Lortel Theater
121 Christopher St.
Runtime2 hrs and 20 min.
CreditsWritten by Richard Brinsley Sheridan; Directed by Marc Vietor
CastFeaturing Dana Ivey, Mark Linn-Baker, Frances Barber and Henry Stram; Also Helen Cespedes, Christian Conn, Christian DeMarais, Jacob Dresch, Ramsey Faragallah, Ryan Garbayo, Bradley Gibson, Nadine Malouf, Ben Mehl and Derek Smith
PreviewApril 8, 2016
OpenedApril 24, 2016
Closing DateMay 8, 2016
This information was last updated:Nov. 4, 2015