This category, A Classic Play, was the first time that my initial book selection turned out to be disappointing. I hemmed and hawed about whether to push through the reading or ditch it for something else. In the end I decided to go with another choice.
My original plan was to read “The Importance of Being Earnest” by Oscar Wilde, but I just couldn’t get into it. No offense to Oscar Wilde fans. To each his own, as they say.
Instead I went with “The School for Scandal” written by Richard Sheridan.
“The School for Scandal” was performed for the first time in London in 1777. It is a humorous, satirical play about the upper class, gossip, and the tales they tell. The deliberate attempts to spread lies and innuendos backfire as would be expected. There are contrived “mistaken” identities for the purpose of deception.
|This image is originally part of the article Comic Distance in Period and Restoration Comedies|
Like John Bunyan did in Pilgrim’s Progress, Sheridan chose names for his characters based on their “characters.” There is a Mrs. Sneerwell, Snake, Mrs. Candour, Sir Benjamin Backbite, the Surface brothers, Charles and Joseph, and Careless to name a few.
There are many times in which a character talks directly to the audience, (in the middle of a conversation with someone else), and I can imagine how that would increase the comedic elements on stage. There is perhaps only one character in the whole cast who appears to be innocent and who I feel any sympathy for. That said, the lies and gossip of the characters come home to haunt the perpetrators in the end.
|Richard Brinsley Sheridan (October 30, 1751 – July 7, 1816)|
No one gets away with much!
The play was fun to read, thoroughly enjoyable. It is a short, quick read and I highly recommend it.