1775 and in the summer streets of Bath, social climber and 'pineapple of politeness' Mrs Malaprop is determined to make her niece Lydia Languish a fortuitous match. Lydia, however, fuelled by an excessive indulgence in romantic fiction, has other ideas and plans to fall in love with a penniless man.
Enter on the scene the inconveniently wealthy Captain Jack Absolute, who in an attempt to fulfil Lydia's romantic ambition, disguises himself as a poor soldier.
What unfolds is mayhem and madness bought wonderfully to life by director Dominic Hill. The Rivals was first performed at Covent Garden in 1775, inspired by Richard Brinsley Sheridan's own romantic entanglements, his play proved to be a huge hit with audiences of the time.
The Playhouse stage is opened up for this production, allowing the cast (and crew) to be visible most of the time. Set designer Tom Rogers has done a marvellous job creating a set that incorporates the many scene changes, which are created by using garish colourful back drops. Costume and wigs are also
flamboyant and over the top but all in context with its 18th century setting.
The cast are magnificent in their roles, each as over the top as the next. Lucy Briggs-Owen as Lydia proved to be a particular audience favourite with her uptalk manner of speaking, and her over the top teenage angst. Julie Legrand stole the show as Mrs Malaprop and her incorrect use of words for almost everything was performed brilliantly. This is a very wordy play and
director Hill has been clever with the script, allowing the characters to be very individual with their deliveries, which just highlights Sheridan's comic writing.
This is a play that ticks many boxes for a great night out at the theatre. Visually stunning and an incredible cast, this is a show that will keep audiences entertained for many years to come.