It's no wonder playwright David Grimm subtitled his new play, Sheridan, "Schooled in Scandal." The subject -- playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan, author of The Rivals and The School for Scandal, left his first calling to become a politician, and the result was scandal, scandal and more scandal.
San Diego's La Jolla Playhouse is now home to the dirty dealings and goings-on July 18-Aug. 20 as the company presents the world premiere of Grimm's dark comedy. Opening night is July 23.
After having success with his two plays, Sheridan entered politics at age 29. But it wasn't very long before he found himself in Parliament, woven into a complex series of scandals involving the mysterious Lord Byron, mad King George III, flamboyant actresses and one blackmailing duchess.
Grimm is the author of Edgar, This Country's Wife, Once in Elysium, I Wake Up Screaming and The Last Stand of Owen Tobias. The New York-based playwright has received the 1996 Julie Harris Playwright Award, the 1996 Panowski Award and the Laurel Award in Screenwriting.
Sheridan was the choice of Off-Broadway director Mark Brokaw, who sent the script to La Jolla Playhouse artistic director Anne Hamburger when she asked what he would like to direct at the theatre. Brokaw directed Lisa Kron's 2.5 Minute Ride, which had its world premiere at La Jolla Playhouse, for the New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theatre. Other credits include his Obie, Drama Desk and Lucille Lortel Award winning direction of Paula Vogel's How I Learned to Drive, This Is Our Youth and The Dying Gaul. Sherman Howard stars as Sheridan with Francesca Faridany as Perdita Robinson and Eliza Sheridan and Jeremy Shamos as Lord Byron. Shamos appeared Off Broadway in the recent Classic Stage Company revival of The Alchemist with Dan Castellaneta, as well as Hamlet, Corpus Christi and Cymbeline. Howard recently played Hamlet at the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival. Last seen in San Diego in the Old Globe production of As You Like It, Faridany stars opposite Tilda Swinton in the independent film, "Conceiving Ada."
Also in the cast are Christopher Burris (Hopkins), Maria Dizzia (Mrs. Rose Crewe), Bairbre Dowling (Miss Pope), Charles Janasz (Prime Minister William Pitt), Trey Lyford (Prince George), Robert Machray (Parliament Member Charles James Fox, Justice McKeye), Ray Reinhardt (King George III, Father Rammage), Sandra Shipley (Duchess of Devonshire) and Alison Weller (Mrs. Maria Fitzherbert).
Designing Sheridan are Mark Wendland (sets), Annie Smart (costumes), Mark McCullough (lighting) and John Gromada (sound).
Tickets are $39-$19. La Jolla Playhouse is located on the corner of La Jolla Village Drive and Torrey Pines Road. For reservations, call (858) 550-1010. La Jolla Playhouse is on the web at http://www.lajollaplayhouse.com.
-- By Christine Ehren