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Anchoring the production is Mary Louise Wilson as Mrs. Malaprop, giving a masterful perf that balances propriety with oblivious lunacy.
The playwright amusingly trashes notions of duty, via Sir Anthony and Mrs. Malaprop's dogmatic expectations, respectively, of Jack and Lydia; and in the behavior of servants, whose devotion masks a hunger for gossip in the case of Jack's valet (James Urbaniak), and personal gain for Lydia's maid (Keira Naughton).
Drudge Christopher Jean Thomas John Kinsherf Lucy April Yvette Thompson Lydia Languish Angela Pierce Julia Mia Barren Mrs. Malaprop Michelle Tauber Sir Anthony Absolute Andrew McGinn Captain Absolute Matt Anderson Faulkland Erik Steele Bob Acres Jonathan Uffelman Errand Boy Heather Raffo Sir Lucius O'Trigger Jeff Swarthout David Royden Mills Director Nicholas Martin, a youthful cast and the eye-popping costumes of Michael Krass bring a continually diverting vigor to the Acting Co.
Any lover acceptable to her aunt Mrs. Malaprop (Michelle Tauber) is unacceptable to Lydia, so when his father proposes that the Captain marry Lydia, the young swain finds himself uncomfortably pitted against his own alter ego in his suit for Lydia's affections.
Tryfort -- a clear predecessor of Mrs. Malaprop from Richard Brinsley Sheridan's "The Rivals" -- fusses and pretentiously misspeaks; and the mysterious Stapleton complains about the noise and remains above it all.
"The Rivals" is both an affectionate sendup of this world's pretentiousness -- most famously in the form of the hilariously misspeaking Mrs. Malaprop -- and an indictment of its silliness; the challenge today, which this production only partially meets, is to keep the pace whirling along despite a fairly convoluted plot and the repetitive structure of one lengthy duologue after another.
Cast: Millicent Martin (Mrs. Malaprop), Ian Lindsay (Sir Anthony Absolute), Ian Shaw (Capt.