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The Rivals by Richard Brinsley Sheridan at Arcola Theatre

The Rivals240 years after it was first performed, Arcola Theatre has announced it is to present The Rivals in a new production directed by Selina Cadell, in Studio 1 from Wednesday 15th October.

The Rivals, written by Richard Brinsley Sheridan in 1775, is possibly the best known and loved of all the Restoration Comedies.

When Town meets Country in the summer streets of Bath, Society begins to play. The stakes are Money, Reputation and Inheritance. Amidst frolic and deceit, we discover secret assignations and disguises, resulting in duels, duplicities, misunderstandings and misalliances. And the much-admired Lydia Languish – our heroine – is at the centre of it all while her Aunt, the infamous Mrs. Malaprop, adds gloriously to the confusion with her hilarious and nonsensical misuse of words.

Against this whirlwind backdrop, Sheridan, the master of wit and epigram, leads us laughing into his charming party – and welcomes us to a true Comedy of Manners.

Selina Cadell is best known for her work as a British stage actress, in a prolific career spanning three decades. Recent stage credits include Alan Bennett’s People and The Habit of Art at the National Theatre and Sam Mendes’ production of The Cherry Orchard at the Old Vic Theatre and on Broadway. Television work includes starring as Miss Froy in BBC’s 2013 film drama The Lady Vanishes, and Mrs Tishell in ITV’s Doc Martin. Work as a director includes The Way of the World at Northampton Royal & Derngate, The Importance of Being Ernest at Nottingham Playhouse and The Diary of One Who Disappeared at Arcola Theatre’s Grimeborn Festival.

Selina Cadell said today: “I do believe that an 18th Century Comedy can be fresh, sexy and relevant for a modern audience, and whilst this production will remain true to the 1775 setting, there will be some anachronistic modern touches. What is very exciting is to be doing this Style Comedy in the heart of Hackney”.

The cast will be lead by Gemma Jones as Mrs Malaprop: Gemma Jones is known for film roles including Bridget’s mother Pam in Bridget Jones’s Diary, Madam Pomfrey in the Harry Potter films, Mrs Dashwood alongside Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson in the Academy Award-winning Sense and Sensibility, and more recently Helena alongside Anthony Hopkins in Woody Allen’s You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger. Television work includes Connie James in BBC drama Spooks, with theatre work including Queen Margaret in Sam Mendes’ production of Richard III starring Kevin Spacey at the Old Vic Theatre.

The cast also includes Nick Le Prevost (Sir Anthony Absolute), Ian Batchelor (Captain Jack Absolut), Adam Jackson-Smith (Faulkland), Justin Edwards (Bob Acres), Adrian McLoughlin (Sir Lucius O’Trigger/ Thomas), Carl Prekopp (Fag/David), Jenny Rainsford (Lydia Languish), Justine Mitchell (Julia Melvill) and Hannah Stokely (Lucy).

The Rivals is directed by Selina Cadell with set design by Emma Bailey, costume design by Ros Ebbutt and lighting design by Tom Boucher. It is produced by Arcola Theatre.

The Rivals 
ARCOLA THEATRE, 24 Ashwin Street, E8 3DL
Press Night: Tuesday 21 October, 7.30pm
Performance Times: Monday – Saturday at 7.30pm, Saturdays at 3.00pm
Tickets: £18 (£14 concs), £16 Matinees (£12 concs), £12 Previews, Pay What You Can Tuesdays
Box Office: 020 7503 1646 | www.arcolatheatre.com

Monday 1st September 2014


  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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