‘The School For Scandal’ rings true in 2018

“It’s a web of lies, and you’re going to get caught in it.”

Going back to an age where people went through more effort to gossip and lie about those around them than we do today, “The School For Scandal” is fit for a 21st century audience to reflect on the power of technology.

Oakland University’s School of Music, Theatre and Dance’s latest production is set in London during the 1700s. Based on the play by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, “Scandal” follows the story of a cluster of characters who all gossip about one another to try and advance themselves. It’s fake news, it’s alternative facts and it’s deceit.

“There’s a lot of entangled plots,” said Andrew Barikmo, who plays Mrs. Candour, describing the play like a Victorian episode of “Gossip Girl.” “Every character in the show is doing something for their own gain. But to do this, they are entangling everyone else. Everyone in this play is connected in some way whether they know it or not.”

Through following all of these plots, the play functions as a comedy. But director David Gram sees great moral implications in “Scandal” as well.

“All of these characters need each other,” he said. “Without each other they would have no purpose, and I think that scares them. The way they gossip and the way they talk to each other is like us today getting our validation from social media. We post things on the internet and one of three things happens: We get a positive response, a negative response or we get no response at all. The worst thing for us is getting no response.”

Though the time period and method of communication are different, Gram says “Scandal” can serve as a mirror for how society acts today. To immerse the audience in this relatable story, the show is being done in the round. When theatre is done in the round, the stage is surrounded by the audience on every side. There is nowhere for a character to hide, everything is in the open.

“We have a very intimate space.” said Lucy Price, who plays Lady Sneerwell. “The audience is so close to the actors. Everyone is brought naturally into the space and story.”

“Scandal” is not commonly performed in the round, so audiences will get a rather immersive experience into the lies and gossip. MTD will host multiple performances between Feb. 1 and Feb. 11. Ticket prices and more information can be found on Oakland’s website.