During a brief but brilliant literary career, Irish-born dramatist and statesman Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751–1816) wrote cleverly plotted plays that revealed his nimble wit and keen eye for comic situations. Two of them — The School for Scandal and The Rivals — are among the funniest in the English language.
The Rivals, brimming with false identities and with romantic entanglements carried on amid a cloud of parental disapproval, satirizes the pretentiousness and sentimentality of the age. It features a cast of memorable characters, among them the lovely Lydia Languish, whose pretty head has been filled with nonsense from romantic novels; Capt. Jack Absolute, a young officer in love with Lydia; Sir Anthony Absolute, Jack's autocratic father; Sir Lucius O'Trigger, a fiery Irishman; and Jack's provincial neighbor, Bob Acres, a bumptious but lovable country squire in love with Lydia.
Hoping to win Lydia's affection, Captain Jack woos the pretty miss by pretending to be a penniless ensign named Beverley, an act that nearly incites a duel with Acres. His actions also provoke serious objections from Lydia's aunt, Mrs. Malaprop, a misspeaking matron whose ludicrous misuse of words gave the English language a new term: malapropism. Ultimately, the hilarious complications are resolved in a radiant comic masterpiece that will entertain and delight theater devotees and students of English drama alike.
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Romantic havoc ensues in the town of Bath when Sir Anthony arrives to arrange the marriage of his son Captain Jack Absolute to the wealthy Lydia Languish. Jack and Lydia are already in love, but because of Lydia's obsession with romantic novels, Jack has disguised himself as a poor officer named Ensign Beverly and he is only one of Lydia's many suitors. The Rivals was Sheridan's first play, and this charming comedy of manners continues to be widely performed today.
A L.A. Theatre Works full cast performance with Rosalind Ayres, Kenneth Danziger, Lucy Davis, Neil Dickson, Sarah Drew, Julian Holloway, Christopher Neame, Lloyd Owen, Moira Quirk, Alan Shearman, Simon Templeman and Matthew Wolf.About the Author:
Dr Tiffany Stern is a former Research Fellow of Merton College, Oxford,and is currently Senior Lecturer ar Oxford Brookes University.
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