Friday, July 31, 2009

The Rivals by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Weird City Theatre Company, July 16 - 26

Here's what I like about John Carroll and the Weird City Theatre Company: they have a sense of fun that's irreverent and modern, but they take their drama seriously.

Necessarily low-rent but not sloppy, the company performs with energy, confidence, and an appreciation for the text, whatever it might be. They have a taste for pop -- we've seen an adaptation of Night of the Living Dead, a faithful production of William Gillette's Sherlock Holmes, and around Halloween we'll get their take on Nosferatu, F.W. Murnau's 1921 unathorized film version of Dracula.

Richard Brinsley Sheridan's The Rivals from 1775 is pop of a different sort. Sheridan, born into a theatrical family and married for love. The success at Covent Garden of this, his first play, spurred him to buy out Garrick's Drury Lane and subsequently to run successfully for Parliament. It's a comedy of manners in which Jack, an artistocratic military officer, disguises his well born origins in order to court Miss Lydia Languish, a dizzy heiress beguiled by popular novels and intent on forfeiting her ample trust fund by marrying poor, for love.

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