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The Arts

Famed British Romantic Comedy Gets New Life at Kirkwood

By January 24, 2011November 16th, 2018No Comments

The Rivals hits the stage Feb. 10-13

After more than two centuries, a classic stage comedy is still widely admired. Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s The Rivals is the next play in the Kirkwood Community College Performing Arts series. The British comedy will be presented in four performances, February 10-13 in Ballantyne Auditorium. Show times Thursday, Friday and Saturday are at 7:30 p.m., with a matinee at 2:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon.

The play is set in Bath, England in the 18th century and engages audiences with characters mistaking the identity of others in the search for love. Comedic relief is given through miscommunication and high drama of love affairs old and new, but gives hope that everything will turn out in the end.

Kirkwood Director Rick Anderson notes that The Rivals has been challenging and engaging for the students with period movement study and some dialect work “that everyone has found very educational.

“I selected this play because I wanted students at Kirkwood to have knowledge of Restoration Theatre by performing a play from this period. It is important to produce classic plays for our students at Kirkwood, whether they are in the Theatre department or an audience member. The Rivals is one of the most produced plays from this period, opening in 1775 and still running strong. I really like the characters of this play, especially Mrs. Malaprop who is constantly making mistakes with her spoken language,” Anderson said.

Reviewer Michael Billington from The Guardian shares the same feelings as Anderson about this key figure. “In the word-mangling Mrs. Malaprop, Sheridan gives us a character who magnificently transcends time,” he said.

A review by Carolyn Balducci in Curtain Up noted Sheridan added in his own “youthful ventures – an elopement, two near-fatal duels and an estrangement from his father over his rash behavior. Whatever personal or political themes might be subliminally woven into the play, ever since The Rivals premiered in January 1775, it has been regarded as one of the best English plays.”

Tickets for the Kirkwood Community College’s performance of The Rivals are $8 for adults and $5 for seniors and students with current ID. Kirkwood students, staff and faculty are admitted free of charge.

Tickets are available from the Kirkwood Theatre box office in 336 Cedar Hall, or by calling 398-5899, ext. 4331.