The Rivals – Reviews Round-up

A round-up of press reviews for The Rivals: Sir Peter Hall directs a glittering revival of Sheridan’s classic comedy starring Penelope Keith and Peter Bowles.

Book tickets to The Rivals at the Theatre Royal Haymarket

Average rating score for this production


“The Mozartian lightness of Hall's production owes much to Simon Higlett's set, which offers a seductive replica of Bath's Royal Crescent. Scenes melt into each other as we watch Sheridan's timeless satire on the caprices of passion.” - The Guardian
“The chief attraction, apart from the generous spirit of the play itself – partly inspired by Sheridan’s own amorous adventures in Bath – are the performances of Penelope Keith as that “Queen of the dictionary” Mrs Malaprop, and Peter Bowles as Sir Anthony Absolute, a man who rumbles and thunders with rage whenever his iron will is crossed.Appearing together on stage for the first time, the much-loved sparring partners from the television sitcom To the Manor Born are both on tremendous form.” - The Telegraph
“Under Hall's direction, the prose is scrupulously well spoken, but there's not much juice in Penelope Keith's strangled Malapropisms, and no one indeed seems capable of perforating her mystery. She is blithely indifferent to her own exigencies, while Peter Bowles's Anthony Absolute cuts a forbidding figure, not least when adumbrating Lydia's charms to his own son.” - The Independent
“There’s appealing support, notably from Tony Gardner and Carlyss Peer, and Robyn Addison, making her professional stage debut, impresses as Lydia Languish, the young woman whose charms (languid, as her name suggests) inspire the play’s main episodes of amorous confusion.Nonetheless, the polished elegance of this production, typified by Simon Higlett’s tastefully handsome set, means the comedy never really bites. Although it’s charming, it could be zestier. We need more puckish outrageousness; instead, this is heritage theatre — respectful and good-looking, but not exciting.” - The Evening Standard
“From start to finish, Hall's production fizzes like freshly-opened champagne. Highly recommended. “ - Daily Express

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