Theatre preview: The Rivals
Director Dominic Hill brings the English comedy of errors to the Citizens
Richard Brinsley Sheridan's The Rivals appears as an intelligent addition to director Dominic Hill's programme at the Citizens. Sitting within Hill's enthusiasm for classic scripts, this 1775 comedy, for Hill, retains relevance and humour even in the 21st century. 'It is an absolute classic English comedy of manners,' he says. 'It is a satire on human behaviour, and human behaviour doesn't seem to change over the years. And it's genuinely funny.'
Set in the then fashionable city of Bath, it follows the adventures of a sophisticated society, intent on proving its own brilliance. Sheridan's script, notes Hill, does the same thing. 'His use of language is brilliant. It's a precursor to Wilde's Importance of Being Earnest, although it is more celebratory. It is based on a similar situation and clever word-play.'
While the happy ending is never in doubt, Sheridan's plot is a complicated version of a romance, with young lovers obsessed with literary ideals of love, and the characters providing a satirical picture of wealthy society.
'It really manages to bring out their absurdity,' Hill continues. 'You've got a lot of privileged people behaving really ludicrously.' Following the intensity of his last production, This Restless House, The Rivals is a showcase for Hill's distinctive mixture of imaginative theatricality and naturalistic performance.
Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, Wed 2–Sat 19 Nov.