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Worth waiting for Wendy; REVIEW.

THE RIVALS - The Swan Theatre, Stratford, to October 7. Running time 3hr 10min.

WHATEVER happened to Wendy Craig? It's an awfully long time since she was a household name in the long-running comedy series Butterflies.

I have good news. She's still around, and you can see her - along with many other fine actors - in Sheridan's old classic.

She's certainly not one to shirk a challenge, as witnessed by the fact that she takes on one of literature's most celebrated characters, Mrs Malaprop.

Ms Craig is excellent, but it's certainly no one-woman show.

It's a play that takes some time to get up and running, but David Tennant grows along with the plot as the hero, Jack Absolute. By the end I was totally charmed by his clever contemporary interpretation.

The other scene stealer was the superb Benjamin Whitrow who gives a tour de force performance as Jack's dad, Sir Anthony Absolute.

It's a long, wordy farce, full of mistaken identity and confusion.

But on a beautifully designed set, it rattles along at a cracking pace and there's plenty of entertaining business to admire.

If you can put up with some terrible 200-year-old jokes, it's well worth the trouble.
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Jones, Bryan
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Apr 3, 2000
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