Downtown Art

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April 26, 2004 // UPDATED 1:21 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Anna Pratt
Anna Pratt

'The Rivals'

Like Jane Austen, playwright/politician Richard Brinsley Sheridan draws complex charades around the comedy of love (but with more fight scenes, typical!).

Set in Bath, England, "The Rivals," condemns conventional wisdom founded on a phony class system and small-mindedness. Through the stories of two pairs of adolescent lovers, Sheridan addresses money snobbery with the characters' fraternity antics, and, while he's at it, has some semantic fun.

Action revolves around Lydia Languish whose capacity for the counterfeit love of piles of trashy romance novels makes you dizzy whilst she's pursued by a trail of screwball suitors and overseen by her loquacious supervising aunt, Mrs. Malaprop, who gives meaning to the word malapropism (an actual derivative).

Sheridan's spoof reverses business as usual, though, when Lydia sets her sights on a poor man, Captain Jack Absolute, a.k.a. Ensign Beverley, who's disguised himself as a down-and-out officer.

Meanwhile, the relationship of Lydia and the Captain's friends, Faulkland and Julia, ebbs and flows into complete disarray.

Sheridan was qualified to scrutinize, since he fought duels himself, to win the heart of his lady. And his caricatures are just as relevant today as they were when they stepped onstage over 200 years ago.

April 30-May 23, Friday-Saturday, 8 p.m. and Sunday,7 p.m. (plus Sundays May 2 and 23, 2 p.m.) Theatre in the Round, 245 Cedar Ave. $20. 333-3010.

'The Office' series two

"The Office" is fully equipped with crushes, Post-it thefts, stapler fights, cardboard partitions, mergers, "axes," redundancies, team talk, drunken lunches, rolled sleeves, managerial bureaucracy, jealousy, confessions, challenges, firewall-installing computer geeks and practical joke-playing cubicle dwellers whose lively sense of humor carries them to the end of the day.

Parodying office politics, the staff of the anonymous firm Wernham Hogg (in the paper industry), is a quintessential lot, prone to "domestic rows" in their intimate workspace. Over spilled coffee, they talk about missed opportunities, secret ambitions and delicate feelings. They share their knowledge about men, women, Bruce Lee, "go-karting" and drag racing. Spontaneously, these employees break out in dance. Ritually, they attend Quiz Night and motivational training. They toss shoes over the rooftop. They get "miffed."

In short, "The Office" crew sounds entertainingly familiar . . . Bass Ale will be given away throughout the evening.

Tuesday, April 27, 7:30 p.m. Brit's Pub, 1110 Nicollet Mall Free. 332-3908.

Anna Pratt can be reached at annapratt@artlover.com.