Monday, March 19, 2012

I'm Scandalized!

Thinking this day about the London stage, and all the wonderful plays available to see, in wishful anticipation of my next trip to that great city. I decided to look into great plays of the 18th Century, and found Richard Brinsley Sheridan's "School for Scandal". It is a comedy of manners, set in London, satirizing the behavior and customs of the upper classes in London, with witty dialogue and an intricate plot that reveal the character's flaws. Typically, there is the bore, the flirt, the gossip, the "rich uncle", the idler.
These kinds of comedies avoided romantic sentimentality that characterized many other stage dramas of the period. Instead, it is rather malicious in its use of gossip and hypocrisy to "get a laugh".

You can view a bit of it at the link below:

This play first opened to rave reviews at the Drury Lane Theatre (still there today) on May 8, 1777. It was heralded as a "real comedy", though it may not hold up today as popular. And why,...... because it is not particularly "politically correct". There is a great deal of anti-semitism running through the play, and of course, in the 21st Century, this is a no-no. There are disparaging remarks about moneylenders, who were most often Jews. When one of the characters disguises himself as a moneylender, he is told he must ask "100" interest" and behave as an "unconscionable dog!"

Of course, people are much too thin-skinned these days, and so this type of stereotype is looked upon with perhaps an overwhelming amount of scandal in itself. Comedy always pokes fun at someone, but these days, we take ourselves much too seriously.

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