The Rivals

by R.B.Sheridan

directed by Philippa Taylor

Performed at

Avington House


14th to 19th July 1980

The Rivals, written in 1775, was Sheridan's first play. It centres around the sentimentally romantic Lydia Languish, who, determined to marry for love and (if possible) poverty, is in love with "Ensign Beverley" who is in fact the aristocratic Captain Jack Absolute. Well understanding the perversity of Lydia's nature, he has wooed her in disguised penury. The two meet and exchange letters despite the watchfulness of Lydia's aunt Mrs Malaprop, who is determined to marry her to Bob Acres, a dull rural squire. When Jack's father Sir Anthony Absolute arrives, he suggests to Mrs Malaprop a match between Jack and Lydia, whereupon Mrs Malaprop immediately drops Acres. Then, when Sir Anthony tells Jack that he has found a wife for him, Jack, unaware of the lady's identity, objects, and they quarrel violently. However, as soon as Jack learns of his father's choice, he plays the penitent and promises to marry Lydia. He proceeds to charm Mrs Malaprop, who introduces him to Lydia as Absolute. Now he must convince Lydia that he, Beverley, must pass himself off as Jack Absolute in order to gain access to her aunt's house. Soon Lydia discovers his true identity and, offended by his deceit and the affront to her romantic illusions, rejects him. Meanwhile, Acres, whose sense of honour has been inflamed by Sir Lucius O'Trigger, a quixotic Irish knight, sends a challenge to Beverley through his friend Jack. Sir Lucius, who has been corresponding with his beloved "Delia" (whom he takes to be Lydia but really is Mrs Malaprop), challenges Jack. Finally, at the duelling place the relationships are revealed; Lydia accepts Jack, Lucius rejects Mrs Malaprop, and Acres retires in haste from the field. In a subplot Jack's friend Faulkland, a young man who finds in every innocent action of Julia, his steadfast beloved, a reason for doubting her love, is finally united with her.

Avington Park and House

The Cast
Sir Anthony Absolute Mr Pike
Captain Absolute Mr Appleton
Faulkland Mr Patterson
Acres Mr Hann
Sir Lucius O'Trigger Mr Tuffill
Fag Mr McComb
David Mr Barter
Mrs Malaprop Mrs Baker
Lydia Languish Mrs Edwards
Julia Melville Mrs Clark
Lucy Miss Evans
Coachman Mr Barter
Musicians Elizabeth Cornford, Essabelle Carré, Hazel Comber, Clare Cowhig, Robin Soldan
Production Team:  
Joy Wingfield Ivan White
Clive Weeks Ron Tillyer
Ken Spencer Beryl Smith
Mandy Roberts Martin Randall
Ann Pennington-Legh Sue Parkes
Julia Patterson Beckett Pennington-Legh
Sonia Morris Roger Lockett
Keith Hooper Christine Evans
John Docherty Sheana Carrington
Wardrobe by Liz Robinson


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Maskers Theatre Company
Off Emsworth Road
SO15 3LX

Registered Charity 900067

Established 1968

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