9 May 2014

Happy endings with The School for Scheming at Orange Tree Theatre


I try to mix the types of plays that I go to see and while I have a preference for things modern and dark I also like things period and light, especially when done as well as the Orange Tree does them.

I had seen one Boucicault play before, London Assurance, and that bade well for seeing another one.

The play is about relationships and money. An impecunious gentleman hopes to clear his financial problems by either marrying his daughter or himself in to money.

She is at a good finishing school and has prospects and is pursued by a lively young Lord but has fallen in love with somebody else who has no money. The gentleman has a target for his marriage for money but she too is not as well off as appearances suggest.

There are several other characters and other schemes afoot which makes for a rich story that verges on the complicated but remains comfortable. The ending is not a big surprise, I had worked out the main theme before the interval, but it was always going to be a happy ending and the only question was how that would be achieved.

In this case the journey is far more important to the destination and it is a marvellous journey with some splendid characters. All the cast were very good and the three that I want to mention are Paul Shelly who was excellent as the scheming gentleman who was more bumbling than brilliant, Oliver Gomm who played the foppish Lord Fipley with much humour and also some heart, and Evelyn Lockley who was cute and purposeful as one of the girls at the finishing school.

The last time I saw Evelyn on stage was in a very different role in a very different play. I like it when that happens.

The other parts of the production (sets, movement, costumes, etc.) were also well up to the usual high standard. It kept neatly to the Orange Tree period comedy formula without ever appearing formulaic.

The School for Scheming was funny, warm and very entertaining.

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