The Rivals (3 stars)

Dominic Hill directs a satirical period romp with flair

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The Rivals

credit: Mark Douet

A Richard Brinsley Sheridan play is always an enjoyable confection of absolutely no calorific value whatsoever, but a treat of wordplay and ribaldry nonetheless. No one understands this better than The Citz' artistic director Dominic Hill. His sticky fingerprints are all over this charming production.

When society brat Lydia Languish, raised on romantic novels, is determined to marry a poor man, she has no idea that her two potential suitors are the same man. Cue all manner of comic misunderstandings, and manufactured lunacy with Mrs Malaprop (Julie Legrand) watching over proceedings with a raised eyebrow and classic linguistic mangling.

Hill plays fast and loose with the 18th century setting, with typewriters, sheep on wheels and Tom Rogers' witty frames and screens slowly sliding down into the background like unwanted guests. It's an absurdist romp which mostly works, but rather exhausts itself towards the end.

Lucy Briggs-Owen brings Chelsea to her drawl, Essex to her make-up and Panto-land to her tantrums as Lydia Languish, but it's the swoon-inducing cad Captain Jack Absolute (Rhys Rusbatch) playing with Languish's heart, and the restrained elegance of Jessica Hardwick's Julia Melville who add a touch of class amid the shrill histrionics.

Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, Nov 2–19 times and prices vary.

The Rivals

An elegant 18th-century comedy of manners directed by Citizens' Artistic Director Dominic Hill.

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