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The Rivals

3.67  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,351 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
A brilliant comic masterpiece revolving around false identities, romantic entanglements, and parental disapproval satirizes the pretentiousness and sentimentality of 18th-century society.
Sheridan's gift for turning situations on their heads is at the foundation of this farcicial comedy of manners, featuring such memorable characters as the lovely Lydia Languish, her suito
Paperback, 140 pages
Published June 15th 1969 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1775)
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I think it was this reading of The Rivals at age seventeen that disabused me of the notion that people several centuries back were not as fond of being entertained as we are today. Prior to that, I think I had lumped all things from earlier times into some great, depressing lump, sure that since our predecessors lacked modern conveniences that they must have found life a dreary affair indeed.

Sheridan's sparkling wit and exuberant language made short work of that notion. I've also retained a lif
Jonathan Dauermann
For a play written almost 200 years after Shakespeare's comedies, it's telling that this play feels much more dated. A marriage comedy that requires multiple characters to take the most convoluted, illogical paths to getting what they want, the plot's contrivances grow tiring after the first two acts. However, this is a distressingly common sin in most romantic comedies through history, where a playwright can seemingly only offer comic situations that arise out of a steadfast refusal on the part ...more
Jan 23, 2015 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays, irish-lit
The Rivals was a surprisingly difficult play to read. I think it might be Sheridan's use of language that has me checking and rechecking myself, but I can't say that that is a bad thing in this case. This comedy deals with a man who is courting a woman under a false guise; his father arranges a marriage for him, but with the exact same girl, but only under his real name, not the guise. Confusion and hilarity ensues!

Maybe this play is just a little dated in a way, but is that really bad? I don't
Jun 09, 2013 Zan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sheridan's plays use conventions of the melodrama to move his plots along, and I can't help but be entertained by them all. The entanglements of Lydia Languish and Capt. Jack Absolute, as well as the other supporting cast of ridiculous characters, play on language, mistaken/hidden identity, and miscarried letters only to peak with a climactic series of duel challenges (one of them leveled at a fictionalized suitor).

I still am chewing on this one, since there is a VERY stage Irishman in this play
Jan 07, 2015 Jaima rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"He is the very Pineapple of Politeness!"
Clever. Funny. It's been too long since I've read satire. I enjoyed this one immensely.
Lydia Languish, a Romantically minded heiress, is in love with Ensign Beverly, who actually doesn't exist. Beverly is the persona chosen by Captain Jack Absolute (yes, the name is dreamy, and he carries a sword and everything) to court Miss Languish. He wants to test her love. Will she give up her fortune to marry him?
The plan goes sideways when Absolute's father arri
Dec 12, 2012 Bt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: If you like light romantic comedies and/or Restoration (1700s) theater
Recommended to Bt by: Actor's Studio II (12th grade class)
Ok, ok, I admit it. I'm cheating. I didn't actually read this book; I watched a movie of it (this one: But if listening to the audiobook would count for reviewing it, why wouldn't watching it?

So, here's my review:

I loved this play! I read or watched quite a few for a theater class this year, and I think this was my favorite. It's funny, and the humor's not too dated either; I think many modern theater-goers would get a good laugh.

The female lead, Lydia
Simon Mcleish
May 02, 2012 Simon Mcleish rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in June 1999.

Sheridan's play is a classic of English language theatre, and the characters have even entered the language (malapropism is derived from Mrs Malaprop, continually trying to impress with long words but using the wrong ones). It is, in form, a parody of a conventional romance, having two pairs of young lovers rather different from the norm.

To take the less important pair first, Faulkland is an exaggeration of the sensitive, jealous lover. His girl,
Loren Harway
Nov 07, 2007 Loren Harway rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 17th C. enthusiasts
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
he Rivals is Sheridan's first play. It is a comedic play set in 18th century Bath and was written in 1877 . I enjoyed reading this novel but i do not see the need to ever read it again.

It pokes fun at romance ideals through the portrayal of Lydia and Jack's love affair and is also satirical with the observations made about the people at Bath (and their irrational love for violence). The character i liked the most is Mrs Malaprop; she is a pompous upper class woman who makes many mistakes in her
Jun 13, 2014 Melumebelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good comedy that is a classic of sorts (for instance, being the source of the word "malapropism") and while it's fine to read, it is much easier to understand and enjoy if seen performed (as soon s I finished I found a version I could watch online, and it's in the stage performance that the comedy really comes alive).
Sep 22, 2015 Reader rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very amusing. I particularly like the dramatic sense of inevitability to the problems that arise - the audience can see the issues arising and this adds to, rather than detracts, from the comedy (like in the Not Going Out episode with the rabbit): we know what will happen yet are powerless to stop it.
Jonathan Scott Farley
As Sheridan's first play, it is very interesting. There are more than a few similarities to Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey and although it is unlikely that she saw the play, I wonder if she read it.

Also interesting to note that this is the play which gave us the term 'Malapropism' via one of the characters (Mrs Malaprop) who continually uses words which sound like the ones she intended to use.
Feb 22, 2010 Yngvild rated it it was amazing
Shelves: plays, humour
The Rivals is one of the best plays I know for pure enjoyment: no moralising, no convoluted plot, no tragedy, no obscure allegories or metaphors. Richard Brinsley Sheridan ran against the tide of dour Puritans in the 18th century to produce this popular comedy.

I saw a wonderful performance some time ago. When I read the play, I try to recreate that performance in my head. If I had never seen The Rivals acted professionally, I have no reason to think that my reading would have been any better tha
Ellie Lloyd
Mar 19, 2014 Ellie Lloyd rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school
For a compulsory school play I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It brightened my day with the ridiculousness of the comedy. Love for Faulkland also!!
Laurence Li
Jun 13, 2014 Laurence Li rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
rich people bitching--in a very (cerebrally) humorous way!
Sayantan Dasgupta
Oct 07, 2015 Sayantan Dasgupta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yeah it's funny but watch out for elements also!
Mira Nixon
Jun 10, 2015 Mira Nixon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very funny. Enjoyed mrs malaprop
Alaina Sloo
Feb 03, 2014 Alaina Sloo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adults-fiction
A very funny 18th-century farce, whose characters include Mrs. Malaprop, a woman who misuses big words to hilarious effect and was subsequently the source of the term malapropism. I read the play, but I also listened to it being performed in a very good Los Angeles Theatreworks app.
Apr 02, 2015 Isobel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, read-in-2015
While funny in parts, this play is too drawn out and farcical without being interesting/saying much about the society it was written for. It's fine, but I wouldn't recommend it.
Matthew Richards
This play felt really dated, through no fault of Sheridan. I was bored through most of it. Mrs. Malaprop is incredibly funny though, so I'll give it 3 stars.
Mar 13, 2011 Craig rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays
Richard Sheridan's first play is a love comedy set in Bath, England, during the 1700s. Ringed with hypocrisy and decadence, it portrays the shallowness of life among the aristocracy of his day. It was written as a spoof. It is out-of-century for me. I did not connect with it and found it rather boring. If was popular for the day, however, and is said to be a favorite play of George Washington.
Apr 26, 2009 Rob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama, definitive
One of the few plays I know of that is as good to read as it is to see performed (the other that comes to mind is Wilde's The Importance of Being Ernest) Sheridan is witty, and some, if not all, of the jokes, especially the running gag of Mrs. Malaprop, are almost better grasped when read.
Nov 19, 2015 Fabfabian rated it really liked it
Shelves: british, humour, plays, irish
Helped along by viewing scenes from Bristol Theatre production, I found this 18th century comedy still rewards with numerous laughs. There is still much to learn about "The Game of Love and Chance" as exemplified by the behaviours of Julia/Falkland, and of course Lydia/Captain Absolute.
Mar 19, 2015 Ellee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Listened to an LA Theater Works production of the play. Very light an entertaining. Mrs. Malaprop is my favorite character. :)
Feb 16, 2011 Jake rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A humourous play, enjoyed it more than I thought I would. More appreciated when performed than read though, like most plays. Very interesting and enlightening ponderings of love, especially through the character of Faulkland and his relationship with Julia.
Jan 28, 2012 Stephanie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: academic
Was a decent book, but kind of long. The play was substantially better than the book because there you could really see the comedy in a way you just can't when reading. Mrs. Malaprop was by far my favorite, and Lucy really got under my skin sometimes.
Mar 06, 2014 Bettie☯ marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Anna Kļaviņa
Anna said: "The play mentioned in Wilkie's No name. I did enjoy it and it is available on librivox :) ”
Jan 12, 2016 Hayley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really really enjoyed THE RIVALS. I found the social commentary to be very explicit and it spoke volumes. Also, it was actually really funny! I would love to be front row at a performance of this play.
Aug 03, 2011 Tim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An old British play which introduces us to a great character, Mrs. Malaprop. Sheridan is a master at language and wordplay. This could have been a screwball comedy from the 30's or 40's/
May 01, 2009 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this classic, the sarcasm and irony. If you like at all Shakespeare or The Importance Of Being Earnest you should read this book, it's funny, very amusing.
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Richard Brinsley Sheridan was an Irish-born playwright and poet and long-term owner of the London Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. For thirty-two years he was also a Whig Member of the British House of Commons for Stafford (1780–1806), Westminster (1806–1807) and Ilchester (1807–1812). Such was the esteem he was held in by his contemporaries when he died that he was buried at Poets' Corner in Westminste ...more
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“Had I a thousand daughters, by Heaven! I'd as soon have them taught the black art as their alphabet!” 2 likes
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