Review: The Rivals, University Drama Studio

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The Rivals, University Drama Studio

Director Craig Walton’s abridged version of Sheridan’s classic 18th century comedy of manners is a hoot.

Lydia Oh Hey Ho Languish, astutely played by Emma Wass, reads too many romantic novels. Worse still, she believes what she reads. Wealthy Captain Jack is forced to assume a lowly status to win her affections.

There are some terrific double acts to suit Sheridan’s cracking script. Tony Kennick is on hilarious form as Sir Anthony Absolute. He is almost delirious, describing Lydia’s beauty whilst an equally terrific Ian Fallon, as Jack, feigns disinterest.

Alison Munro shines as Mrs Malaprop murdering the English Language. Her bemused confidantes are surely playing a game of spot the Spoonerism.

Walton has enabled each of his characters, no matter how small a part, to have various idiosyncrasies.

Glenn Roberts as Bob Acres, for example, seems to have modelled himself on Hugh Laurie’s Prince Regent from Black Adder 3, set in a similar period. Jack calling him Fighting Bob is very Eltonesque!

Apart from Faulkland and Julia’s intense relationship, there is an underlying levity to romantic proceedings. Even when there has been an argument one is either a scoundrel, a rogue, a puppy, a dog or a hussy!

Even the swordplay and some waving of realistic-looking vintage guns was performed with tongue in cheek.

There were some great costumes. Women’s dresses with the attractive panniers and men wore tunics, breeches and boots. Such is the attention to detail, even the prop staff wore period wear and some even shook their tailfeather.

Stephen Grigg