edited by Ann Blake
Sheridan’s play mixes comic situations and tender feeling with brilliant repartee and a sharp satirical edge, in a smart, witty play about the pleasures and perils of scandal.
Lady Sneerwell, experienced scandal-monger, is conspiring with the smooth Joseph Surface to break up the match between Charles (Joseph’s brother) and a young lady named Maria. Joseph wants to marry Maria for her money; Lady Sneerwell wants Charles to herself. They send out whispers of an affair between Charles and Lady Teazle, the extravagant young woman married to Sir Peter Teazle. Meanwhile, Joseph and Charles’s uncle returns from abroad, and decides to test the respective characters of his nephews by visiting them in disguise.
The plots, scandals and disguises result in brilliantly contrived comic scenes, sometimes connecting with moments of human pain and happiness, before returning to the splendid artificial world of heightened wit and heightened folly.
The School for Scandal was first performed in 1777 at the Drury Lane theatre, London.