School For Scandal Still Tickles

REVIEW by Willard Manus

Gossip and its second-cousin scandal have always been with us, we are reminded by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, the witty and bawdy Restoration playwright whose 1777 comedy THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL has been brilliantly revived at the Mark Taper Forum. Directed by Brian Bedford, who also plays the severely cuckolded Sir Peter Teazle, the production is a hoot from beginning to end thanks to expert staging and acting buttressed by Catherine Zuber's hilariously outrageous costumes.

Sheridan lampoons the follies of the rich (shown to be preoccupied with money, status and sex) and the prurient interest of the lesser born, who take lipsmacking glee in the upper-class's all-too-public failings and flailings. It's not just gossip that powers the human race, it's the pleasure that comes with seeing celebrities humiliated, as evidenced by today's popularity of the National Enquirer and Inside Edition. Nothing has changed since Sheridan's time, except maybe for the costumes and settings.

An 18-person cast led by Bedford, Kate Fry (as his young, cheeky wife), Carolyn Seymour (as the aptly named Lady Sneerwell), Devon Sovari (as the goodhearted Maria), Kevin O'Donnell and Don Reilly (as the roguish Surface brothers) does wonders with Sheridan's colorful and punchy dialogue. They help make THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL the funniest and most stylish comedy in town, even if it is nearly three hundred years old.

Mark Taper Forum, 135 N. Grand Ave. Call (213) 628-2772 or visit