The Rivals

The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre

June 12, 13, 14 & 15, 1996

The Rivals

by Richard Brinsley Sheriden

Directed by
Paddy Hartley

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“Master of the English language”
– Director –


Ralph Dawes – Coachman

Derek Fraser – Fag

Judith Berrill – Lucy

Jane Porter – Lydia

Jane Richards – Julia

Joan Braddock – Mrs Malaprop

Peter McGhie – Sir Anthony Absolute

Jeff Ashby – Captain Absolute

John Garland – Faulkland

Bob Ryder – Acres

David Creedon – Sir Lucius O’Trigger

Luke Chatterton – Boy

George Illman – David

Anna Barden – Maid


Production Crew

Stage ManagerMike Medway

Assistant Stage ManagerJenny Brown

Set Design, Construction & PaintingBrian Box

Set Design, Construction & PaintingDave Collis

Set Design, Construction & PaintingDave Comber

Set Design, Construction & PaintingMichael Davy

Set Design, Construction & PaintingRalph Dawes

Set Design, Construction & PaintingMark Flower

Set Design, Construction & PaintingSheila Neesham

Lighting & SoundFrances Thorne

ContinuityJean Porter

WardrobeFrances Moulton

WigsChris Horlock

PropertiesSue Whittaker

PropertiesJoan Bearman

PublicityJudith Williamson

Publicity & Theatre PhotographsGeorge Laye

Front of House ManagerBetty Dawes

Box OfficeMargaret Murrell


Programme Note #1: The Rivals

PH wrote: “I first became a fan of Sheriden when I took the rôle of Julia in a school production. The Rivals was originally performed at Covent Garden on 17th January 1775. Two years ago it played to packed houses at Chichester. I wonder how many of our ‘modern’ plays will last as long! I wish some script writer’s could take a lesson from this master of the English language.”

Programme Note #2: The Rivals

The Rivals was Sheriden’s first play written when he was just 23. He was then leading a hand-to-mouth existence, having eloped the year before with a young singer he had just met while he was a law student in Bath. Disinherited by his father and pursued by previous rivals for his young wife’s favours [with whom he fought two duels] he set about writing the play in the hope of making several hundred pounds. Helped by the fact that he knew the manager of the Covent Garden Theatre, he struck lucky – The Rivals opened there in January 1775.

Initially, however, the play was not well received. It was too long, the characters were thought to be unsympathetic, and some of the plot and the dialogue were felt to be too saucy for the priggish theatre audiences of the day. Sheriden set to work again, rewriting and editing the script. When the play reopened 10 days later, it was a sure success – and has stayed in the popular repertoire for over 200 years.

The Rivals set Sheriden on track for a successful career. He followed up with several more plays, including the classic School for Scandal in 1777. Soon afterwards, however, he largely deserted playwriting for politics, holding a seat in Parliament for a succession of rotten boroughs and rising to prominence in the Whig opposition to George lll’s government. His decline was a sad one, losing his place as an MP and his investments [when Drury Lane Theatre burnt down]. Richard Brinsley Sheriden died in 1814, a chronic alcoholic and heavily in debt. His legacy, however, lives on in his two joyful celebrations pf comic theatre – The School for Scandal which Wick Theatre Company performed to great acclaim way back in 1969, and The Rivals which we are delighted to present to you now.