The Critic (play)
The Critic: or, a Tragedy Rehearsed is a satire by Richard Brinsley Sheridan. It was first staged at Drury Lane Theatre in 1779. It is a burlesque on stage acting and play production conventions, and Sheridan considered the first act to be his finest piece of writing. One of its major roles, Sir Fretful Plagiary, is a comment on the vanity of authors, and in particular a caricature of the dramatist Richard Cumberland who was a contemporary of Sheridan.
Based on George Villiers' The Rehearsal, it concerns misadventures that arise when an author, Mr Puff, invites Sir Fretful Plagiary and the theatre critics Dangle and Sneer to a rehearsal of his play The Spanish Armada, Sheridan's parody of the then-fashionable tragic drama.
In 1911, Herbert Beerbohm Tree mounted a star-studded production of The Critic at Her Majesty's Theatre starring George Alexander, Cecil Armstrong, George Barrett, Arthur Bourchier, C. Hayden Coffin, Kenneth Douglas, Lily Elsie, Winifred Emery, George Graves, George Grossmith, Jr., Edmund Gurney, John Harwood, Charles Hawtrey, Helen Haye, Laurence Irving, Cyril Maude, Gerald Du Maurier, Gertie Millar, Edmund Payne, Courtice Pounds, Marie Tempest, Violet Vanbrugh and Arthur Williams. In 1946, Laurence Olivier played the role of Mr. Puff in a famous production of the play at the Old Vic, alternating with Sophocles's Oedipus Rex. In 1982, Hywel Bennett starred in a BBC television production which was also broadcast in the U.S., on the A&E channel. While there is no commercially available version of this BBC production, a complete home VCR copy is available on YouTube.
The Shakespeare Theatre Company, Washington, DC, premiered the play in an updated version by Jeffrey Hatcher on January 5, 2016. The production pairs the play with "The Real Inspector Hound" by Tom Stoppard in the same performance, performing "The Critic" in the first half, the Stoppard play after intermission. The same double bill was produced at the Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis, MN, opening on February 23, 2016.
- "Sheridan, Richard Brinsley." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 7 July 2007 <http://search.eb.com/eb/article-6614>.
- "Critic, The, or a Tragedy Rehearsed", The Concise Oxford Companion to English Literature. Ed. Margaret Drabble and Jenny Stringer. Oxford university Press, 1996. Oxford Reference Online. 7 July 2007 <http://www.oxfordreference.com/views/ENTRY.html?subview=Main&entry=t54.e1490>
- The Critic at Boosey & Hawkes Online
- The Critic, Free e-text at Project Gutenberg
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