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The School for Scandal by Richard Brinsley Sheridan

Published on October 7th 2005.

The Lowry does a great service in providing varied, eclectic theatre week after week for playgoers in Greater Manchester. This week it is the turn of Northern Broadsides.

What a wonderful midweek treat. This marvellous comedy of manners is a witty, hilarious look at the outlandish, malicious behaviour of a group of snobs, hypocrites and libertines in the late 18th century.

Transplanting it to accents of Northern England shows that as in all great drama, it is the words and the plot which make for its timelessness, not a specific setting or language.

The story is well known. A group of gossips, conspirators, scandal mongers and parasitic individuals enhance a rivalry between brothers, an unlikely marriage and the fortunate (or perhaps unfortunate) arrival of their uncle. Sheridan makes it all so funny. It is written so elegantly.

Through plot, sub plots and all sorts of complex entanglements the play proceeds along its merry way. It never fails to keep the attention with its constant pace, numerous scene changes and such witty dialogue.

The cast do a great job. Sally Carman is a triumphant 'Lady Teazle'. She is funny, well characterised and with a particularly humorous turn of speech. She is the magnet for the whole production. Andrew Pollard is an excellent 'Backbite'. As a ludicrous knight in garish, foppish clothes and a hairstyle to match he overacts superbly. His moments on stage add considerable pleasure.I like Andrew Whitehead who plays 'Crabtree' particularly in the scenes where scandal and gossip are the subjects.

A most enjoyable production which is well worth seeing. The musical interludes of a pastiche nature demonstrate the versatility of this company. The direction of the experienced and assured Barrie Rutter are evident throughout.

Richard Burbage

The Lowry until Sat Oct 8th
Box Office 0870 787 5790

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