The Rivals showed from Friday March 6 – Sunday March 8th in the main lobby of the Greer Garson Theater due to renovations to the main stage.
The house lights, which could have easily been mistaken for the natural lighting of the palatial Greer Garson main lobby, dimmed and soon the focus was in the center of the circle of chairs. One door was left open to the ticketing lobby wherein walked what appeared to be the last remaining seat-holders to the show. In walked the cast of the Performing Arts Department’s showing of the comedy of manners The Rivals.
Rivals includes various “breaks” with the characters in which the performers would engage the audience during a scene. The round setting allowed every side of the audience to feel included. Already entranced by the stylistic and photographic odes to the late Greer Garson, this personalized seating and audience-engaged approach left viewers thinking, “I think the play just came to us.”
Originally written and performed in 18th century England by Richard Brinsley Sheridan, The Rivals explored a romance between its two main characters: Captain Jack Absolute, played by senior Matt McMillan, and Lydia Languish, played by freshman Maddie Garcia. Jack and Lydia are seeing one another, though she has two suitors anticipating her hand in marriage. Sir Anthony Absolute, who has recently arrived in Bath and is unaware of his relationship with Lydia, informs Jack that he has a marriage arranged for him. Jack protests, but is soon told by his servant Fag (played by freshman Robert S. Bradivica) that the marriage is actually arranged for Lydia. Lydia’s friend Julia, played by freshman Nina Poenisch, is in love with Jack’s friend Falkland—senior Tyler Nunez—but is stifled by Falkland’s rampant insecurities brought on by Julia’s alleged infidelity. McMillan and Garcia recently performed aside one another in last semester’s student directed production of Hotline.
While the comedic chemistry between Garcia and McMillan is undeniable, their witticisms are trumped by the ever-so-frequent malapropisms spout by Mrs. Malaprop herself, from whom the term originates.
Freshman Bradivica, Nina Poenisch (Julia), Randy Dockendorf (Sir Anthony Absolute), John Dadi (Bob Acres) and Mira Eagle (Lucy —Lydia’s duplicitous maid) all made their mainstage debuts.
Hamilton Turner plays one of Lydia’s suitors, Lucius O’Trigger, a conniving Irishman who attempts to foil the plans of Jack and Acres the other remaining suitor. O’Trigger—a possible projection of Sheridan’s own dueling past, serves as the chief instigator in the climax of the play.
However, the wry banter and light hearted nature of the play wouldn’t be ruined by despair or tragedy. Instead all parties are met with at least some sort of significantly pleasing resolve, welcoming a song and dance through curtain call.