18 Suffolk Street, London SW1Y 4HT

The Rivals Poster

The Rivals

3.5 star rating3.5 star rating3.5 star rating3.5 star rating

Closed February 26, 2011

A comic masterpiece... a first rate classical revival

The Guardian

Why See The Rivals?


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.

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Additional Information


Previews from: 10 November 2010

Opening night: 23 November 2010


The Rivals is suitable for audiences aged 6 and upwards.

Run time

2 hours and 35 minutes with one intermission.

Cast and Creative


Penelope Keith as Mrs Malaprop
Peter Bowles as Sir Anthony Absolute


Directed by Peter Hall
Written by Richard Brinsley Sheridan

What you thought

2 reviews, average rating: (5.0 Stars)

5.0 star rating

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 website... more

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