Sheridan's The School for Scandal at the Shakespeare North Playhouse

One of my favourite plays is Richard Brinsley Sheridan's The School for Scandal. This year we are incredibly lucky to have at least three performances of this wonderful play, in three very different theatres.

Having seen The School for Scandal at the Theatre by the Lake last month, I was very excited to spot the same production performing at the Shakespeare North Playhouse. There were a couple of reasons for my excitement! Obviously, I was keen to see the play again, but more importantly, we were very keen to have a reason to visit the Shakespeare North Playhouse. 

The Playhouse was conceived before Covid-19 and when we read about it, we we somewhat surprised. A theatre in Prescot seemed something of an anachronism, and a theatre with Shakespeare connections even more so. We weren't very hopeful, but then I did a bit of research and discovered that the links to Shakespeare weren't as tenuous as we'd originally thought.

During Elizabethan times, Prescot was home to the first freestanding, purpose-built indoor playhouse outside London. In the late 1500s, the Fifth Earl of Derby, Ferdinando Stanley of Knowsley Hall, also known as Lord Strange, sponsored a talented troupe of professional players named "Strange's Men". "Strange's Men" are thought to have performed in this first Elizabethan indoor theatre in England, outside the capital. Shakespeare is believed to have visited Prescot, and this possibly has links with his Hoghton Tower connections. So, as incredible as it seems, Prescot does have genuine claims to Shakespeare.

However, then Covid -19 struck and nothing much happened in Prescot. When I started checking out the offering, there wasn't anything of interest for us. Until I spotted The School for Scandal.

So, last week we popped to Prescot for a matinée performance, and oh my goodness! we were stunned. The Shakespeare North Playhouse is simply gorgeous, with a complete replica of a cockpit theatre, based on the cockpit-in-court theatre 1630 and earlier designs, by the celebrated architect Inigo Jones.

The performance was wonderful, of course, but the theatre was the star of the show! We've already booked tickets for Twelfth Night later in the summer.