The Rivals

This minor classic of the English theater is really an 18th-century version of Three's Company

Details

Through April 23

Tickets are $12-76

749-2228

www.act-sf.org

Geary Theater, 415 Geary (at Mason), S.F.

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Richard Sheridan wrote this lighthearted farce in 1775 when he was just 24, and even though it's considered a minor classic of the English theater, the play has the slightly naive, unformed sensibility that you'd expect from such a young playwright. The plot concerns the various suitors of Lydia Languish, a bored rich girl with a serious addiction to romance novels: Will she fall for the ridiculous country bumpkin, the violent Irishman, or the handsome trickster who looks good in a military uniform? The answer is obvious, but it's still fun to watch it play out. The Rivals features some memorable supporting characters, including Mrs. Malaprop (whose vocabulary disasters gave us the word "malapropism") and the jealous, preening Faulkland. Sheridan had an undeniable gift for dialogue, and the actors' deft command of the language is one of the chief pleasures of the evening. Gregory Wallace whips Faulkland's solipsism into a flamboyant whirlwind, and Stacey Ross brings a passionate realism to the clear-headed Julia. Director Lillian Groag keeps the proceedings moving at a lively pace and finds a consistently appealing tone; however, she's not above the type of dog and poop jokes that remind us we're dealing with the 18th century's version of Three's Company.

 
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