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The School For Scandal - Royal Shakespeare Company Review

Reviewed by Mark Johnson
Tickets were gifted in return for an honest review.

Tinuke Craig’s production of Richard B. Sheridan’s play The School For Scandal, which first premiered in 1777 is a hoot, with striking costumes and vibrant pink lighting the way as big laughs and even bigger scheming is at the heart of the show.

Siubhan Harrison as Lady Sneerwell in The School For Scandal. Photo by Marc Brenner (c) RSC

Think Bridgerton meets Mean Girls and you’ll land somewhere near this production. Impressive period outfits and wigs are designed by Alex Lowde, the visual impact of these carries throughout with both ladies and gents given some wowing pieces to wear. 

The piece is set in 1770s London where the aristocracy spend their times gossiping about each other. Sheridan’s script is given a polishing with some modern day language thrown in. At the core of this is Lady Sneerwell (an excellently delivered performance by Siubhan Harrison) who enjoys ruining the reputations for pleasure. The play does struggle for the first 20-30 minutes or so to really get going, it’s a bit of a wordy before the plot eases and the laughs become bigger especially by the second act. 
We are introduced to the players throughout with the Surface brothers Joseph and Charles becoming key to the scheming, especially upon the return of their uncle Sir Oliver Surface whom neither brother have seen since they were babies. Both Stefan Adegbolo and John Leader are superbly cast, both deliver the roles with a great skill that makes both so watchable. Adegbolo constantly breaks in to rhymes which is always amusing whilst Leader’s flamboyance and sense of fun is a treat to see.

The company of The School For Scandal. Photo by Marc Brenner (c) RSC.

Wil Johnson has a great time as Sir Oliver who pretends to be different people to meet the brothers and test their loyalty only to be disappointed by both. Johnson is a wonderful actor and knows how to deliver a line to have maximum effect. 

The same could be said for Geoffrey Streatfeild as Sir Peter Teazle whose own slightly fractious relationship with Tara Tijani’s Lady Teazle plays an important part of the story and leads to the tremendously farcical screen scene in the second act. 

Yasemin Özdemir is fantastic as Maria, she makes you want good for the character and once that ultimately happens it feels a lovely resolution. Whilst Patrick Walshe McBride enjoys the role of Sir Benjamin Backbite and his own flamboyance is superb.

Lowde’s set using 3 stage lifts allowing for props and cast to enter the stage in scene changes whilst the colour scheme of pink and blank is embossed in the costumes and Oliver Fenwick’s lighting scheme. 

The production ends with an epilogue delivered by Özdemir’s Maria’s reminding the audience that all the enjoyment and scheming we’ve seen is a distraction to our own lives and to make sure we live our own lives with enjoyment, it ends the show brilliantly. 

It’s an undeniably slick production full of big laughs and even bigger wigs. With a striking visual palette Craig’s production brings Sheridan’s work to a modern 2024 audience and richly entertains. It would be scandalous to miss it. 


The School For Scandal plays in rep with The Merry Wives of Windsor with the season ending on 7th September. Tickets are available from

The company of The School for Scandal. Photo by Marc Brenner (c) RSC.

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