Here's why The School for Scandal (at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre) is on our must-watch list

The RSC is taking The School for Scandal to new heights with a lavish production at their Stratford theatre

Royal Shakespeare Company
(Image credit: Royal Shakespeare Company)

The School for Scandal is coming to the Royal Shakespeare Company this July, with a fashion-focused contemporary twist on this classic satire.

'There’s no possibility of being witty without a little ill-nature,' reads the tagline for The School for Scandal, the biting comedy by Richard Brinsley Sheridan in 1777. Sheridan’s classic comedy of manners will play this summer at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon, fusing the worlds of fashion and theatre.

Many iterations of The School for Scandal have taken since its first performances, from modern-day takes to a '50s-style romp, but the RSC’s upcoming production takes the play back to its roots. The costume design, which combines period flair with a Vivienne Westwood-esque twist, is enough of a draw, with huge structured skirts, romantic bodices and elaborate wigs taking a playful approach to period dressing.

Similar to the RSC’s autumn production of Charlie Josephine’s COWBOIS, a subversive Western that sees the women of a sleepy town rethink societal norms after the arrival of an enigmatic bandit, The School for Scandal is a play that explores people and their complexities.

The story is set in 1770s London, where the value placed on good morals has taken a nosedive, particularly within the aristocracy. Among the upper-class circles, there’s plotting, scheming, deception and betrayal; essentially, it’s Gossip Girl with very big wigs.

At the heart of the plot is Lady Sneerwell, a wealthy widow whose main joy is spreading malicious gossip and wreaking havoc on anyone she thinks needs to be brought down a peg or two. The conniving aristocrat soon sets her sights on Charles Surface—a dashing young man set to inherit his father’s fortune. Along with Charles’ backstabbing brother, Lady Sneerwell plots the downfall of London’s most eligible bachelor—with hilarious consequences.

Coming to Stratford-Upon-Avon from 2nd July 2024, The School for Scandal is set to be one of the highlights of the theatre calendar this summer. For lovers of comedy, theatre and fashion this outrageous production ticks the boxes for a cultural outing in Shakespeare country.

The School for Scandal doesn’t take itself too seriously, broadening its appeal. Whether you’re an avid theatre-goer or looking to try something different, Sheridan’s comedy of manners makes for enjoyable viewing.

The School for Scandal rehearsal photos

(Image credit: Courtesy RSC / Marc Brenner)

And there’s nowhere quite as atmospheric to experience live theatre than the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-Upon-Avon. Shakespeare's birthplace is a literary haven, with cultural hotspots at every turn and winding cobbled streets boasting original Tudor architecture; a love for the arts is part of the picturesque market town’s DNA.

After the show, retreat into the warm embrace of countryside-style bolthole The Dirty Duck. It’s just around the corner from the theatre, with the pictures of actors who have performed at the RSC over the years crammed into every corner. You’re also likely to be rubbing shoulders with the stars of the show, with actors known to pop into the pub to unwind after their performance.

One of the joys of Stratford-Upon-Avon is that it’s small enough to get everywhere on foot, meaning you can stroll from a pre-theatre dinner (The One Elm has a hearty gastropub offering, while The Woodsman is upscale farm-to-table dining) to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and then on to one of the town’s welcoming pubs or cosy cocktail bars.

The RSC also does a delicious two-course pre-theatre dinner in their stunning Rooftop Restaurant, with beautiful views over the River Avon and surrounding countryside. You can also enjoy a pre-theatre drink or light bite at the RSC's Riverside Cafe, which is in an idyllic spot next to the River. For somewhere to stay, Hotel Indigo is just a five-minute walk away from the theatre and has spacious literature-themed rooms and a buzzy hotel bar.

The Royal Shakespeare Company performs plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries, as well as commissioning a wide range of original works from contemporary writers.

The RSC also offers shows in London at the iconic Barbican Theatre. Current productions in the capital include the multi-award-winning Matilda, the Musical and My Neighbour Totoro heading to the West End in 2025.

You can find out more on the Royal Shakespeare Company website.

Lauren is the former Deputy Digital Editor at woman&home and became a journalist mainly because she enjoys being nosy. With a background in features journalism, Lauren has bylines in publications such as Marie Claire UK, Red Magazine, House of Coco, women&home, GoodTo, Woman's Own and Woman magazine.

She started writing for national papers and magazines at Medavia news agency, before landing a job in London working as a lifestyle assistant and covers everything from fashion and celebrity style to beauty and careers.