A Citizens Theatre, Bristol Old Vic and Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse co-production

By Richard Brinsley Sheridan
Directed by Dominic Hill
Wed 2 November – Sat 19 November 2016, Citizens Theatre


Citizens Theatre Artistic Director Dominic Hill directs a new co-production between Bristol Old Vic, Citizens Theatre, Glasgow and Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse of Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s The Rivals this autumn. The elegant yet earthy 18th-century comedy of manners features some of the most enduring and eccentric comic characters in British theatre and plays at the Citizens Theatre from 2 to 19 November.

Set in the summer streets of Bath, The Rivals follows the fortunes of social climber Mrs Malaprop in her efforts to make a fortuitous match for her niece Lydia Languish. Mrs Malaprop’s plans are thwarted by a series of mistaken identities and complex machinations, with hilarious consequences. The contrivances of The Rivals were inspired by Sheridan’s own romantic entanglements, which fed the gossip-mongers of his day with endless scandal and tittle-tattle. 

The production opened at Bristol Old Vic on Thursday 15 September, with critics praising Hill’s production for its boldness and humour and Tom Roger’s set design. The cast assembled have also won praise for their roles, with Lucy Briggs-Owen’s Made In Chelsea-inspired interpretation of Lydia Languish and Julie Legrand’s preening Mrs Malaprop being particularly lauded.

Legrand returns to the Citizens Theatre as Mrs Malaprop, having been a regular member of the Citizens’ company in the 1980s. In her previous roles at the Citizens, Legrand appeared onstage alongside actors including Gary Oldman, Rupert Everett, Roberta Taylor and Celia Imrie. Legrand has since gone on to perform regularly with the Royal Shakespeare Company, as well as in Chichester Festival Theatre’s recent production of Gypsy starring Imelda Staunton and as Jeanette Dunkley in the TV series Footballer’s Wives.

Playing opposite Legrand is Olivier Award-winner Desmond Barrit as Sir Anthony Absolute. A regular performer with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Barrit won an Olivier Award for his role in the company’s The Comedy of Errors and an Olivier nomination for his role as Falstaff in Henry IV Parts 1 & 2.  Legrand and Barrit have previously appeared on stage together as Madam Morrible and The Wizard respectively in Wicked in London’s West End.

Jessica Hardwick returns to the Citizens stage as Julia Melville. Hardwick’s previous performances at the Citizens in Lanark: A Life in Three Acts, Rapunzel, Crime and Punishment and Slope as well as in National Theatre of Scotland’s recent tour of The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart mark her as one of Scotland’s finest young actors.  They are joined by Nicholas Bishop, Lucy Briggs-Owen, Lily Donovan, Keith Dunphy, Henry Everett, Lee Mengo, Rhys Rusbatch and Shaun Miller, who is one of this season’s Citizens Theatre Actor Interns.

The production premiered at Bristol Old Vic on Thursday 15 September, running until 1 October. The Rivals then plays at the Liverpool Playhouse 5 – 29 October, before its run at the Citizens from 2 – 19 November.

Tickets are on sale now from or by calling 0141 429 0022. Full price tickets are available from £12.50 - £22.50, with tickets for the preview performance on Wednesday 2 November priced at £9.50. Bargain hunters can join the queue for 50p tickets for The Rivals when they go on sale at 10am on Saturday 29 October.


Citizens Theatre Press Night Thu 3 November, 7.30pm

For more information, interviews and images, or to request tickets, please contact Keren Nicol, Marketing & Communications Manager 0141 418 6233. Production images are available to download from the Citizens Theatre flickr feed.


Citizens Theatre, Bristol Old Vic and Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse present
By Richard Brinsley Sheridan
Directed by Dominic Hill
Designed by Tom Rogers
Lighting Design by Howard Hudson
Original Music by Dan Jones

Cast: Desmond Barrit, Nicholas Bishop, Lucy Briggs-Owen, Lily Donovan, Keith Dunphy, Henry Everett, Jessica Hardwick, Julie Legrand, Lee Mengo, Shaun Miller, Rhys Rusbatch.
Dates: Wednesday 2 November – Saturday 19 November, 7.30pm (not Sundays or Mondays)

Preview: 2 November, 7.30pm
Matinees:  Saturday 12 & 19 November, 2.30pm
BSL interpreted performance:  Friday 11 November, 7.30pm
Audio Described performance: Saturday 12 November, 2.30pm
Captioned performance:  Saturday 12 November, 2.30pm
Tickets: £12.50 - £22.50
Previews £9.50
Concessions from £2
£2 transaction fee applies to online sales

10 tickets, 10 performances on sale at 10am Saturday 29 October
NB – 50p Tickets must be bought in person at the theatre, cash only. Limited to 2 tickets per customer.


The Citizens Theatre is an iconic venue and theatre company based in the Gorbals area of Glasgow. It has been one of Scotland’s flagship producing theatres since 1945. Fondly known as the Citz, it is led by Artistic Director, Dominic Hill and Executive Director, Judith Kilvington.
Within a beautiful Victorian auditorium that dates from 1878, the Citizens presents a world-class, contemporary repertoire based on bold new interpretations of classic texts. As its name suggests, it places a strong emphasis on work that can enhance and transform the lives of citizens of all ages, cultures and social backgrounds through performance and participation that everyone can access.
The theatre is currently planning and fundraising for a transformative £20.8 million building re-development which will be the first comprehensive, integrated redevelopment of the building in its 138 year history.
For the latest information on all Citizens Theatre shows, learning and participation activity and the
forthcoming theatre redevelopment project visit

Bristol Old Vic, the longest continuously-running theatre in the UK, is a globally-renowned organisation, publicly funded by Arts Council England and Bristol City Council to support innovation and access for all.

This historic playhouse aims to inspire audiences with its own original productions, both at home and on tour, whilst nurturing the next generation of artists through its trail-blazing development programme, Bristol Ferment. It also has a celebrated outreach programme, including the award-winning Young Company.

2016 is a milestone year for the organisation as it celebrates its 250th birthday by both reflecting on its rich history and looking towards its future. Having completed the refurbishment of the Grade 1 listed Georgian auditorium and backstage areas in 2012, the next phase of works beginning this year is set to transform the front of house spaces, creating a warm and welcoming public building for the whole of Bristol to enjoy.

Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse Two Great Theatres. One Creative Heart

We are two distinct theatres, almost a mile apart, which together make up a single artistic force. We are driven by our passion for our art-form, our love of our city and our unswerving belief that theatre at its best can enhance lives. While our two performance bases could hardly be more different, they are united by our commitment to brilliant, humane, forward thinking theatre that responds to its time and place. This ethos was praised by the judges when the Everyman was awarded the 2014 RIBA Stirling Prize for architecture.

Recent collaborations include:  The Massive Tragedy of Madame Bovary! (adapted by John Nicholson & Javier Marzan, with Peepolykus, Nuffield, Bristol Old Vic and Royal & Derngate Northampton); The Haunting of Hill House (by Anthony Neilson, with Sonia Friedman and HAMMER); The Odyssey: Missing Presumed Dead (by Simon Armitage, with ETT); Dead Dog In A Suitcase (and other love songs) (by Carl Grose, Music by Charles Hazlewood, with Kneehigh, UK & World tour); The Ladykillers (by Graham Linehan, with Fiery Angel, West End, UK tour); The Caretaker (with Jonathan Pryce, West End, Adelaide Festival, USA tour and BAM, New York); Antony and Cleopatra (with Kim Cattrall); Ghost Stories (written and directed by Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson, with Lyric Hammersmith, West End, Toronto and Moscow).

Return to Press