The Blackbird Theatre presented its opening night show The Rivals on December 30, to celebrate its 10th Anniversary. And what a way to celebrate! The Rivals was two hours of hilariously funny identity swaps, outrageous use of language, and dramatic sword fights. I would highly recommend seeing this absolutely spectacular show!

Photo by Tim Matheson

Photo by Tim Matheson

The Rivals is Richard Sheridan’s first play, and under Johnna Wright is reset in the Edwardian era. What really makes it interesting is that the plot is based on events in Sheridan’s life. Meaning it’s the story of the everyday man, if the everyday man had inadvertently gotten himself into duels to the death! It’s set around the character Lydia Languish who is in love with a poor ensign named Beverley. Problem number one: Lydia’s aunt wants her to marry for wealth and Beverley is only an ensign. Solution: Beverley is not in fact Beverley but wealthy Captain Jack Absolute. Problem number two: Lydia doesn’t know. Add into the mix a couple of bumbling suitors, an overbearing aunt, and an American with a penchant for guns and you get the incredibly funny, incredibly well put together show that is The Rivals.

Photo by Tim Matheson

Photo by Tim Matheson

It sounds altogether confusing, but I assure you it came together flawlessly. Not for one second was I confused, even with three cases of mistaken identity. The love story, which is the focal point of the play, was completely believable. Martin Happer as Jack Absolute was as dashing as ever and Emma Slipp as Lydia Languish was absolutely stunning. Contrasted was Mrs. Malaprop whose use of allegories and prepositions to describe neither allegories nor prepositions was hilarious. Wow what a game to see if you can catch them all!

Although it was only a small cast of 9, they held together the show. I was laughing non-stop and the rest of the audience with me. Although there was a lot of dialogue, not once did I misunderstand what was spoken. It was just over two hours but felt much shorter, and when it finished I wished it would go on for just a bit longer, if not for the sake of seeing the actors one more time.

Photo by Tim Matheson

Photo by Tim Matheson

And you can see for yourself! The Rivals is playing at the Cultch until January 23. With tickets starting from $29, it would be a mistake to miss it!

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Deanna Cheng authored this blog post. Deanna is a team member of Super Sacha, loves the arts, culture and has an interest in International Relations.