Review: The Rivals

Dryden

The most recent play performed at the YPAS Experimental Theater is “The Rivals”, an 18th-century British comedy written by Richard Brinsley Sheridan. “The Rivals” follows the story of rich Britons living in the city of Bath and the complications that arise within courtships and match making. “Rivals” is renowned for its quick witted comedy that satirizes the romantic drama’s and strict adherence to manners of the time. However, the elevated language and British accents caused much of the comedy to be lost on the younger members of the audience. 

The directors at YPAS are not known for choosing easy plays, like Stepping Out and Trojan Women to name a few. Every actor performed their parts to perfection and with unbridled enthusiasm but the play would have been much more interesting and entertaining if anything more than the basic plot of the story could be understood. Aside from the plot, the other elements of 18th century England present in “The Rivals” were very entertaining. The costumes were beautiful and well suited to each character and the scenery was ornate yet classy. The baroque music played in between each scene helped to set the mood. Although the accents made it hard to understand the lines being spoken, they furthered the authenticity and the humorous aspects of the characters.  

Choosing “The Rivals” was ambitious, I’ll give them that, but such a play would have been more effective and entertaining if the audience had a more mature understanding and sophisticated tastes. That being said, the student actors involved in the play obviously worked hard and deserve recognition for their work. I would recommend that you see the play. The difficulty level of the play is near that of Shakespeare’s and the intricate costumes and scenery provide evidence of the hard work the students put into the play, but keep in mind you most likely will not have more than a superficial understanding of the story.