On Friday after work, I met Mirinda and we went and saw The Rivals at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket. It’s a famous comedy, written by Richard Brinsley Sheridan and first produced in 1775. It’s first performance was at the Theatre Royal, Convent Garden, so not so very far away from it’s present run.
We’ve seen the play performed before but wanted to see this production because firstly, it was directed by the legendary Peter Hall, and, secondly, Penelope Keith is playing the delightful Mrs Malaprop and Peter Bowles, a marvellous Sir Anthony Absolute. It was all very, very good. And a delight from start to finish.
But before we arrived at the theatre, Mirinda had a coffee with a Tasmanian who works for the agency responsible for her new placement. While waiting, I wandered around Oxford Circus as the sun slowly set and the crowds grew thicker. Honestly, some of them had no IQ at all!
Given I’m not in this part of town except when forced, I popped down to Carnaby Street for a bit of a squizz. I then had a pint in the packed Argyle Arms (a lovely Victorian pub in all respects apart from the crowds) and a wander around HMV before settling down for a coffee at Costa’s, where I received a text from Mirinda to say she was outside Liberty’s, which she wasn’t.
From Liberty’s we wandered down to Haymarket, passing through the horrendous Piccadilly Circus, heavingly full of the Friday night crowd. We decided to take tea at the Italian place right next door to the theatre, followed by a taking of the air wander down King Charles Street – which ties in nicely with the book I’m reading at the moment concerning Charles II and the Restoration of the monarchy – the first ten years.
The theatre is lovely, as most Theatre Royals tend to be. Our tickets were dead centre, about eight rows back. We arrived with two minutes to spare and forced everyone to stand up so we could get to our seats. Rather nice to be the annoying ones for a change.
The play was great. Lots of laughs and some fine acting. Penelope was wonderful though a tad bit likeable for Mrs Malaprop which meant the final bit of slagging off didn’t quite go down as it ought. Peter was wonderful. The last time we saw him was in a production of Deathtrap and he forgot his lines a few times through it. I was worried because of this but need not have bothered for he was excellent.
The rest of the cast was very good, particularly Lydia Lanquish (played by Robyn Addison) in her first professional role. There were two other well known faces from television as well. Keiron Self, the other dentist in My Family played Bob Acres very well and Tony Gardner, the guy who owns the cafe in Lead Balloon was an appropriately dour Faulkland.
All in all, a wonderful production and great fun.
Afterwards we had a lovely stroll back to Waterloo and caught a late train back home to the delight of a couple of manic poodles.