top of page

The Rivals

by Richard Brinsley Sheridan

"This is a glorious romp of Sheridan’s classic comedy. Under the watchful direction of Sophie Brooks, the Playing Up Theatre Company have thrown out the rule book and sensibly opted for the high camp and almost absurd approach to restoration comedy…. There is not a weak link in this company who work seamlessly together..."
Bath Echo

About the play

The Rivals is a comedy set in Bath in 1775, which is being given a trademark Playing Upgrade with modern touches and musi.. The play itself makes good work of satirising the pretensions of its day and false identities and romantic entanglements, along with parental disapproval, are played out with energy and humour. Throw in a four way duel and some classic misuses of the English language (this is the play that gave birth to the term, ‘malapropism’) and you’ve got another high energy comedy perfect for Playing Up.

Captain Absolute, masquerading as Ensign Beverly, is courting a beautiful young heiress, Lydia Languish. Her aunt Mrs Malaprop has other ideas – as do his rivals, Bob Acres and Sir Lucius O’Trigger. Mrs. Malaprop herself, meanwhile, has fallen in love with an Irishman, Sir Lucius O’Trigger who has never seen Mrs. Malaprop, but has been hoodwinked by her maidservant, Lucy, into believing that the romantic creature with whom he has been exchanging love letters is a seventeen year old lady named Delia.

Jack’s friend Faulkland engages in his own romantic pursuit of Lydia’s cousin, Julia Melville, but he is forever placing imaginary obstacles between himself and his beloved. Whenever they are separated, Faulkland imagines all kinds of catastrophes that might have befallen her, and when he finds that she is alive and well he torments himself with the thought that she clearly did not miss him enough.


With jealousies, mistaken identities and a four way duel between the rivals, the action builds towards the inevitable revealing of the truth. Expect rapiers at dawn, pistols at elevenses, deceit, double deceit and double double deceit and all in the name of love!


bottom of page