The Rivals Criticism

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Samuel Johnson called The Rivals and Sheridan's The Duenna "the two best comedies of the age." Indeed, as reported in Walter Sichel's 1909 biography of Sheridan, Sheridan: From New and Original Material, the play "never left the stage" from its inception until a slowdown in the latter nineteenth century. In the twentieth century, revivals have been sporadic, but successful. The first night, however, was a disaster. The theater was packed; the London Chronicle of January 21-24, 1775, as noted in Sichel, proclaimed "there had not been seen so many ladies and people of fashion at a first night's representation for a long time." Most of the audience abhorred the play. Sichel summarizes the effect: "A whole chorus hissed disapproval.... The play itself was damned. Its blemishes—length, exuberance, and drawn-out sentiment."

As quoted in Sichel, the Morning Post of Janu-ary 20, 1775, called it "the gulph of malevolence," while the next...

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This section contains 497 words
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The Rivals from Drama for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.