The Rivals Rehearsal Diary – Week 5

So here we are! With little more than 24hrs before we raise the curtain on The Rivals, we present the final rehearsal diary featuring all the very latest happenings from Assistant Director Ed Madden. The perfect pre-show read before you take your seat.

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A bumper blog this week. Rehearsals have been busier than ever over the past week and a half — with the first night approaching we’ve been working late into the evening to bring the many aspects of the production together.

In the fifth and final week of rehearsals in the room, the objective was simple: to be able to run the show, all the way through, with everyone still standing by the end. First runs are fascinating. For the first time, the cumulative effect of weeks of work becomes tangible, but putting the show together in this way also illuminates blind spots that we would never notice otherwise. For the cast, having the chance to play the full arcs of their characters offers new revelations; that scene in act five suddenly feels different purely by virtue of being seen within an hour of that scene in act three.

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In our run, I am able to properly admire the detail of the production for the first time. Although we’re still taking a rough and ready approach, Dominic has filled the show with little moments; flourishes of social precision that help the play feel full and rich. I think it’s these moments which help us keep Sheridan’s comedy the right side of pantomimic — funny, wild and silly, but with a foot planted in reality. It’s this which allows us to effectively manage the switches in tone; this is a play which wants and needs its audiences to laugh, but also to feel.

After our final day in the rehearsal room, it’s time for tech. We walk into the theatre, and it’s a world apart from the last time we were there; the stage is a vision of faded Georgian glamour, and absolutely pitch perfect for the world of The Rivals. Our designer Tom has done a stunning job of evoking the period whilst also being strikingly bold and theatrical — this isn’t like any other production of the play you’ll find photos of online.

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As each element has arrived, the show has come closer and closer to being the thing we’ve had in our heads for months now. The costumes are beautiful, and have added layers to the cast’s performances just by being there. The wigs (oh, the wigs) are works of art. Our lighting designer Howard seems to know exactly how to make the set look most gorgeous at any given moment.

As I write this, we are mere hours away from our dress rehearsal, and just over a day away from our first preview. We’ve come a long way from our read-through in Camden. In fact, sat in the stalls typing this, it feels like we’ve arrived in another world entirely.

The Rivals continues our 250th Anniversary Season 9 Sep-2 Oct. For more information and to book tickets, click here.


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