by Richard Brinsley Sheridan; producer Eric Hart
11-12 November 1949, Orpington Civic Hall
Sheridan’s classic comedy from 1775 has never really gone out of fashion, and is the only play (as of 2022) that the Players have performed three times; the other occasions being 1976 and 2003. With 27 years between each performance, we are next due to put it on in 2030.
The Rivals concerns the romantic difficulties of Lydia Languish, who is determined to marry for love and into poverty. Realising this, the aristocratic Captain Jack Absolute woos her while claiming to be Ensign Beverley. But her aunt, Mrs Malaprop, will not permit her to wed a mere ensign, and Lydia will lose half her fortune if she marries without her aunt’s permission. In the end, Lydia abandons her sentimental notions and agrees to marry Jack.
Mrs Malaprop proved to be one of the most popular caricatures in English drama, giving her name to someone who constantly misuses words.