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by Diane Windeler |www.incidentlight.com
 
A caveman may not have captured his mate by bopping her upside the 
head, but you can be sure that her friends and his believed he did and 
spread the word as far and wide as possible. Yep, scandalmongering has 
always been a favorite pastime. It was so in 1777 when Richard Brinsley 
Sheridan wrote the delicious satire The School for Scandal, and it is 
undeniably true today when social media make instantaneous spreading 
of gossip and rumors almost de rigueur.
 
Adept director Diane Malone proves it with the cunning production now 
playing at The Classic Theatre. Her version retains most of Sheridan’s 
florid, witty script and characters but sets it in contemporary times when 
everyone has a cell phone. Her large, exceptionally strong cast is 
unfailingly energetic and comical.
The premise hangs on skewering the idle rich, the spoiled hoity toity who 
relish gossip and innuendo with absolutely no thought of 
consequences. At its center is Lady Sneerwell (saucy chatterbox Christi 
Eanes), a widow whose life was almost ruined because of slander. 
She now devotes herself to vengeance by being as hurtful as possible. As 
often as possible.
 
Her latest target is Sir Peter Teazle (drawn as frustrated but amiable by 
John O'Neill) and his much younger new bride, Lady Teazle (cheerfully 
narcissistic Samantha Robison). Lady Sneerwell admits to desiring dissolute 
Charles Surface (the excellent Michael Holley), who supposedly has a yen for 
Sir Peter's gentle ward, Maria (Becca Broyles). She, by the way, is the only 
one of the lot who does not engage in gossip. And there is Charles's elder brother Joseph Surface (talented San Antonio newcomer Zach Lewis), who also has his eye on Maria.
 
The brothers have been financially supported by their uncle, Sir Oliver (Joe De Mott) who has has just returned after 16 years in India. They don't recognize him, of course, and we soon learn that he has hatched a plot to discover which of his nephews deserves his inheritance.
 
There are other characters, as well, most making their entrances after being announced via a text message on a ringing cell phone. One of the most amusing is Alexa McLatcher as the wide-eyed, breathless, over-the-top gossip Mrs. Candour, who has no idea that most of her catty remarks actually describe herself. The remainder of the free-wheeling cast (some in multiple roles) involves servants, friends and others, well-played by Richard Solis, Holly Clifford, Steven Starr and Chad Thompson.
 
Confusing? Perhaps, but stick with the play's wildly comical scenes and pacing to find that it does sort itself out.
 
Christine King's handsome, spare set involves jewel-tone stripes and matching fold-out panels, etc. with very little furniture. Cast members moving things during semi-blackouts permits brisk scene shifts accompanied by Rick Malone's largely techno-motorific sound design. Jodi Karjala and Terri Peña Ross created a charming gemischt of quasi-contemporary costumes, some as loud as their wearers, others – such as the tan leisure suit or an ultra-wide orange shirt collar – just plain funky.
It's all great fun, and if there is a lesson to be learned, it's think twice before hitting that “send” key.
 
Diane Windeler
November 15, 2016
The School for Scandal runs through November 27 at The Classic Theatre, 1924 Fredericksburg Rd. Call 589-8450.
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    Season 2016-2017

    The House on Mango Street

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    Sept. 02- Sept.25, 2016

    The School For Scandal

    by Richard Brinsley Sheridan

    Nov. 4 - 27, 2016

    TheTempest by William Shakespeare

    Feb. 07- March 12, 2017

    Bus  Stop by William Inge

    May 5- May 28, 2017

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