by Richard Brinsley Sheridan
Venue: DBS Arts Centre, Robertson Quay
Dates: 7 to 10 May 2003 at 8pm
Director Daniel Toyne (Shakespeare on Love, The Tempest) breathes new life into this ‘A’ Level Literature set text as he frees its odd assortment of quirky characters from their usual 18th century constraints and sets them loose on their very own ‘Temptation Island’.
The main players in the bizarre plot include Lydia Languish, an idealistic heiress; Jack Absolute, a dashing Captain who must pose as a pauper to win her love; and Mrs Malaprop, Lydia’s lexically-challenged aunt with a secret passion of her own. Subplots feature Julia, Lydia’s scheming cousin and her neurotic lover, Faulkand; bumbling Bob Acres, a competing suitor for Lydia; and Sir Lucius O’Trigger, a lusty Irishman who has also fallen in love with Lydia. Add to this a rash of mistaken identities, comic coincidences, deceptions and duels, and you have one of the most thoroughly enjoyable satires ever written.
The Stage Club, Singapore’s oldest theatre group, has earned a fine reputation for bringing ‘O’ and ‘A’ level texts from the page to the stage (most recently with its highly acclaimed Hedda Gabler in May 2001) and continues this tradition with The Rivals. Sheridan has been likened to Oscar Wilde in his genius and ability to provoke scandal, and this contemporary production, set on a tropical island (yet still retaining the original language), dramatically demonstrates that his portrayal of human foibles and passions is just as provocative, entertaining and relevant today as when it was first staged.