Theatre ReviewsTom Williams

The Rivals – A Comedy

Directed by Laura Sturmrivalsweb

Produced by Polarity Ensemble Theatre

At Josephinum Academy

18th Century comedy butchered by Polarity Ensemble

There is nothing more torturous than having to sit through three hours of horrible fake English (and Irish) accents that were screamed and high pitched to boot! That is what awaits at Josephinum Academy with Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s 1775 comedy, The Rivals, that satirizes the trappings of marriage, wealth and social class. Sheridan was trying to poke fun at the ridiculous behavior of the upper class English and Polarity’s amateurish production turns this classic into a wildly over acted manic parody that is more clown-like vaudeville that satirical comedy. Not even Devorah E.Richards’ Mrs. Malaprop misuses of complex vocabulary produces enough humor to save this tedious show.

Most of the cast screamed so loudly in the small space that it was quite irritating. Why do so actors think that the way to express anger or extreme emotions must be done by shouting? Add the high pitched sounds from several of the female players and the show begins to sound like chickens cackling. This three hour annoyance drones on with stupid modern references (cell phones, etc) despite the 18th Century costumes complete with wigs and full dresses. Why? This production was more silly than funny with so many players racing through their lines so quickly that most of the wit was lost. Only David Chizanowski as Captain Absolute came close to understanding Sheridan’s style. The Rivals was simply too difficult a work for this collection of non-Equity players. I’d skip this marathon of screaming.

Not Recommended

Tom Williams

At Josephinum Academy, 1500 N. bell, chicago, IL, call 1-800-838-3006 or, tickets $15, Fridays & Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 2:30 pm, running time is 3hours, 5 minutes with intermission.

[mappress address=”1500 N. Bell, chicago, IL” ]

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