The Rivals Play
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A modern, annotated edition of the play with a critical introduction, biographical information on the author, discussions of dates and sources, and textual details.
Author: Richard Brinsley Sheridan
Release Date: 2012-03-29
“The Rivals” is the first major comedy by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, a radical Irish actor and politician in George III's England. Not quite as complex and astute as his later “She Stoops to Conquer”, “The Rivals” remains a warm, unforgettable, and very, very funny play. Here we meet the chatty Mrs. Malaprop, who proudly tells us "if I reprehend anything in this world, it is the use of my oracular tongue, and a nice derangement of epitaphs"; her niece Lydia, lost in the world of lurid half-bound romantic novels; Sir Anthony Absolute, often wrong but never in doubt; Sir Lucious O'Trigger, of BlunderBuss Hall; and the rest. The dialogue and plot devices are well-crafted and funny; the social commentary is perceptive and satisfyingly naughty; but what stays with you is the humanity of each of the characters. These are not the caricatures of Restoration comedy, but personalities the reader will remember; ridiculous like all humans, but engendering empathy as well as laughter.