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18 Suffolk Street, London, SW1Y 4HT


Ended 26 Feb 2011 after 3 months

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A comic masterpiece... a first rate classical revival

The Guardian

Closed 26 Feb 2011


The Rivals is delightful play about mistaken identities, hypocrisy romantic deceptions and covetous trickeries. Whilst retaining its hilarity and wit, playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan cleverly satirises class divides, patriarchal attitudes, aristocratic scepticism of education and the linguistic pomp.

Set in 1775, Bath is teeming with the fashionable folk who flaunt their finery, enjoy the waters and indulge in a good dose of gossip, but pursue romance.

Sir Anthony absolute is determined to arrange a marriage for his son. But Captain Jack Absolute has fallen for a disdainful and absurdly romantic Lydia Languish, whose reading habits, centred on fiction and romance, do not impress Jack's father. Lydia's aunt, Mrs Malaprop, is inflicted with verbal impropriety and a tiresome desire to control her niece's love life. Faukland and Julia also struggle to express their affections. Add a loud-mouthed Irishman Sir Lucius O'Trigger and a hick Bob Acres, and the already extravagant crowd becomes all the more hilarious.

With expert direction by Peter Hall and a simple but evocative set by Simon Higlett, The Rivals is polished, assured, intelligent and thoroughly entertaining. Mrs Malaprop is played by much-loved actress Penelope Keith (The Importance of Being Earnest, Relatively Speaking and Blithe Spirit), while distinguished stage and screen actor, Peter Bowles, plays Sir Anthony Absolute.

Additional Information


Previews from: 10 November 2010

Opening night: 23 November 2010

Closing night: 26 February 2011


The Rivals is suitable for audiences aged 6 and upwards.

Run time

2 hours and 35 minutes with one intermission.

The Rivals Shop

What You Say

2 reviews, average rating: (5.0 Stars)

Anonymous: “The Rivals”

Brilliant.Penelope Keith was excellent in a difficult role. Remembering... more

Linda: “Playwright?”

Sheridan wrote a great play. However, I am shocked that the Haymarket websi... more

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