COM­EDY OF MAN­NERS

The Ri­vals

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - SEVEN DAYS - PC

Smock Al­ley Theatre. Jul 31 – Sep 2. 7.30pm (Sat, Sun mati­nee 2.30pm). ¤18/¤15 smock­alley.com

The last time Smock Al­ley staged Richard Brins­ley Sheri­dan’s com­edy of man­ners “The Ri­vals”, it was the Ir­ish pre­miere of a very new play. That was in 1779. If the play has held up as well as the theatre’s stonework since then, it may owe some­thing to the con­vo­lu­tions of the plot, so tan­gled with crossed pur­poses, com­pet­ing af­fec­tions and in­vented char­ac­ters it can be hard to iden­tify the ri­vals in ques­tion. For sim­plic­ity sake there are about five – in­clud­ing one al­ter-ego and one father – joust­ing for the hon­our of a prickly de­mure Ly­dia Lan­guish, among whom are a swag­ger­ing Cap­tain Jack, the an­guished swain Faulk­land, a gorm­less suitor Acres, a stage Ir­ish­man Sir Lu­cius O’Trig­ger, and, most mem­o­rable of all, Mrs Malaprop. In di­rec­tor Liam Hal­li­gan’s pro­duc­tion, her man­gled maxim is still likely to in­form any Ri­vals re­vival: “We will not an­tic­i­pate the past, our ret­ro­spec­tion will now be all to the fu­ture.”

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