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Sheridan in the Spring

Mark Damazer

The Canal House garden play re-emerged after a year’s accidental sabbatical – Sheridan’s ‘The Rivals’ – with Stephanie Rochford as the impresario and an ebullient cast and audience.

The weather held – though it was not quite glorious – and the traffic behaved well enough to ensure we could hear it all. Some of the cast had left their learning of lines rather late… and there was evidence of beyond-last-minute swatting during the performance itself, but it all worked out. The improvisation when lines were forgotten was of a very high standard, if not necessarily undetectable. We were reminded at the outset that 18th century theatre often relied on such devices too.

There were many highlights – country dancing, rolled Scottish consonants, a full-blooded slap (administered by one member of the cast to another). But when Marcus Knight-Adams, in drag, shrieked as Mrs Malaprop, the tourists on the mound 100 metres away all turned to see what was going on, and then sat down and watched. So we had a gaggle of non-paying spectators.

The costumes deserve a line of their own – they were simply fantastic. We may do it one more time this term. So come.

The Rivals
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