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IT is almost 250 years since Irish playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan penned The Rivals but clever direction has kept it fresh and pawky.

The actors hurtled through the script like an express train yet not one nuance was lost.

This comedy takes us through a farcial series of events until the main protagonists are reunited.

The main story revolves around Lydia Languish's ultimate ambition to marry a poor man despite the best efforts of her aunt.

Her chosen beau, however, is far from poverty stricken but pretends to be so in a bid to win her hand.

And while on the surface this is a gentle comedy, there is no mistaking the author's daring early nod to feminism.

The acting was superlative and Lucy Briggs-Owen's interpretation of the petulant Lydia Languish was simply divine, melding the tres ennui Made In Chelsea posh totty with Miranda Richardson's Queen Elizabeth a la Blackadder.

Her facial expressions and lazy drawl successfully brought the character straight into the 21st century while sticking rigidly to Sheridan's dialogue.

Playing her aunt, Mrs Malaprop, was the wonderful Julie Legrand whose comic timing was en pointe. Malaprop tries to use impressive words but instead uses ones which sound similar but mean something completely different.

Sheridan's character was so loved the term malapropism was coined in her honour.

There were other sterling performances from Rhys Rusbatch as the duplicitous Captain Jack Absolute and from Desmond Barrit as his overbearing father. But genuinely there wasn't a single below par performance from any of this 11-strong cast.

This may be a period comedy but there is nothing modern in the country to rival it at the moment.



STAGE STUNNER The cast are impeccable

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Nov 11, 2016
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