Author(s): Richard Brinsley Sheridan
The three plays collected in this volume demonstrate Sheridan's unerring ability to create unrivalled comedy out of ingenious plots, witty repartee, farcical situations and flamboyant characters. And while he never overtly moralizes, Sheridan uses brilliant comedy to deflate hypocrisy and satirize the manners of his age. In "The Rivals", Captain Absolute becomes his own rival for the hand of Lydia Languish - wooing her under another name, while her aunt, the verbally inept Mrs Malaprop, wishes her to marry the real Captain. "School for Scandal" continues the theme of imposture when Sir Oliver tests his nephews by appearing to them in disguise, and learns that reputation and the approval of society are of little value. And "The Critic", featuring the pompous Puff and the arrogant Sneer, is a mocking depiction of the theatre, playwrights and, of course, critics.
Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751 - 1816) was the son of an actor-elocutionist and educated at Harrow. He escorted the singer Elizabeth Linley to France, fought two duels on her behalf and married her in 1773. In 1775 he made a spectacular debut as a dramatist with The Rivals, St Patrick's Day and The Duenna, a comic opera. In 1776 he acquired Garrick's share in the Drury Lane Theatre which he managed until it burnt down in 1809. The School for Scandal was produced in 1777. From 1780 till 1812, Sheridan was an MP and held several government offices. Eric Rump is an Associate Professor of English at Glendon Collge, York University, Toronto. He is the author of a number of articles on both Restoration and modern drama.