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It may be two centuries old, but the timeless themes of gossip, deceit and backstabbing in Richard B Sheridan’s School For Scandal remain strikingly relevant today. Replace digital trolling with the tittle-tattle and rumour-spreading of elite society tea parties, and you get the idea. In the hands of the RSC, this satirical comedy feels like a modern commentary … Bridgerton long before Bridgerton if you will.

I studied the play for my O-Level English (the very fact I say “O-Level” shows you just how long ago that was) and had vague memories of confusing plotlines and jokes that fell very flat when read aloud in a classroom. Thankfully, under the direction of Tinuke Craig, the opulence and excess of Georgian England is given contemporary vigour, with newly added epilogues, prologues and gags about online privacy making it far more humorous than I remembered. DJ Walde’s score brings the five-act comedy of manners very much up-to-date; as does the striking Barbie pink set and Vogue-esque dance routines.

The cast delivers performances that are both nuanced and exaggerated, perfectly suited to the satirical tone. Geoffrey Streatfeild’s portrayal of Sir Peter Teazle balances exasperation and affection, particularly in his interactions with the young and spirited Lady Teazle, played with verve by Tara Tijani. Their dynamic is at the heart of the play, capturing the humorous yet poignant essence of a rather mismatched marriage. Siubhan Harrison embodies the role of scheming socialite and gossip queen Lady Sneerwell with a blend of charm and malice, and in a dress so preposterously wide she shuffles sideways with every entrance and exit.

The intricate details of Alex Lowde’s lavish costumes cleverly reflect the high-society milieu that Sheridan critiques in School For Scandal; while Oliver Fenwick’s neon lighting enhances the visual spectacle, highlighting both the glittering facades of the characters and their hidden motives. The pacing is brisk, keeping the audience engaged throughout with endless witty exchanges. And while at nearly three hours some may find it a tad lengthy, Sheridan’s wit and wisdom certainly prove as incisive today as they did in 1777.

The RSC’s production of School For Scandal runs at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford, until September 6. Tickets available here.