Mike Bartlett has three performances in London at the same time: Rooster in the Theater of Ambassadors, 47th in The Old Vic and Scandaltown in Lyric, Hammersmith. This is a remarkable achievement and a record broken only by Somerset Maugham, who simultaneously conducted four performances in the West End in 1908.

In the same way as Bartlett King Charles III was a Shakespearean shepherd, yes Scandaltown is a staging restoration comedy.

The Puritans, when Oliver Cromwell ruled Britain, closed all theaters in 1642, and they did not reopen until King Charles II returned from Paris in 1660 to regain the crown.

We all suffered terribly when Kovid closed cinemas and still suffer with cancellations. But how would we, theatergoers, survive in the 17th century, when theaters closed for eighteen years, yes 18 years ???

Restoration comedies satirized the vices and folly of the time. They were popular for about forty years until the public got tired of debauchery, debauchery, debauchery and blasphemy, preferring something more sentimental.

The plays were no longer seen for two centuries until Nigel Playfer in Lyric, Hammersmith, in the 1920s, made them popular again.

Bartlett’s shepherd is lousy, and the play, staged by Rachel O’Riordan, lacks the wit, style and sophistication required by Comedy Manners. Strange and ugly costumes from cartoons will not help. Satire on 21st century social media, hypocrisy and corruption are weak.

Rachel Stirling and Richard Goulding are the most experienced actors, and their scenes are the best. Stirling plays a social climber who discovers she slept with the wrong person. Goulding plays a key Tory government minister who briefly converts to socialism and homosexuality. Thomas Jossling is also funny as a naive young man, delighted with the loss of virginity

It would be great to see a true restoration comedy of Etheridge, Wicherley, Congreve, Farquare and Vanbru, where they once again performed with style. There was a time when you could see plays in which he performed plays such as John Gilgood, Edith Evans, Margaret Rutherford, John Clements, Kay Hammond, Maggie Smith, Judy Dench, Donald Sinden, etc.

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Robert Tanitch reviews Mike Bartlett’s Scandaltown at Lyric, Hammersmith, London

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