The Rivals | Polarity Ensemble Theatre | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader

The Rivals The Short List (Theater) Closing (Theater and Galleries)

When: Fridays-Sundays. Continues through May 17 2009

Laura Sturm frames her staging of Richard Brinsley Sheridan's classic comedy with vignettes involving a present-day guy who's miserable because he just lost his job. Since they have nothing whatever to do with Sheridan's tale of love complications among leisured 18th-century Brits, the vignettes must be there to give us moderns an entry point: "Oh, there's someone poor and despondent and wearing a tie, just like me!" This isn't necessary. If any 234-year-old play has kept its contemporary voice, it's The Rivals. Sheridan is wry, wised-up, and very funny. Sturm insists on pushing for accessibility, though--not only through the vignettes, but with anachronisms (Dave & Buster's, The Devil Wears Prada) and loud, cartoonish characterizations. Half the actors act like they're yelling English at a foreigner, hoping that the secret of intelligibility is volume. Still, Sturm's got a fine Mrs. Malaprop in Devorah E. Richards, a charming chambermaid in Tanya McBride, and the enthusiasm of the cast can be contagious when they're not trying quite so hard. --Tony Adler

Price: $15

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