Critical Reception

  • Jeremy Rowe
Part of the Macmillan Master Guides book series


Probably the harshest criticism The Rivals has ever received came after its disastrous first night. The Morning Post, 21 January 1775, had this to say about the most controversial aspect of the play: ‘This representation of Sir Lucius, is indeed an affront to the common sense of an audience, and is so far from giving the manners of our brave and worthy neighbours, that it scarce equals the picture of a respectable Hottentot.’ After some revision and a reassignment of the role, Sir Lucius O’Trigger became not only acceptable but an audience favourite, a stock Irish gentleman but at that level unsurpassed.

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© Jeremy Rowe 1986

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  • Jeremy Rowe

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