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A way with words.

Byline: By Thomas Bagnall

The Rivals, Theatre Royal, Newcastle, until Saturday

Malapropism: ludicrous misuse of a word, especially by confusion with one of similar sound.

Let me explain. The word is derived from the character of Mrs Malaprop, the `old weather-beaten she-dragon' in The Rivals, which opened last night.

Mrs Malaprop often uses the wrong word but is completely oblivious of the fact, and is even overtly proud of her vocabulary. See, reading this is not only entertaining, it's educational too.

As is The Rivals, Richard Sheridan's 18th Century comedy of manners.

It centres around Lydia Languish and Captain Jack Absolute, who are courting, except that Absolute is going by the name of Ensign Beverly.

The reason for this is long and drawn out, and I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain, so you'll have to see the play for yourself. Anyway, hilarity ensues.

Stephanie Cole plays Mrs Malaprop, who wholeheartedly deposes the romance. Did you see what I did there? I'm dead clever, me!

The cast is brilliant, and it would be foolish to try and pick out any member over the rest, but it's my duty to do just that, so I'll go for Faulkland, the irrational lovelorn friend of Absolute, played by Jamie de Courcey.

His performance epitomises all the male characters, whose various levels of foolishness all but hamper their chances at true love.

As Mrs Malaprop put it: "All men are Bulgarians!"
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Copyright 2006 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Feb 7, 2006
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