The first of several shows I’ve directed at Salisbury, including Ayckbourn’s House and Garden and Victoria Wood’s Pat and Margaret, The Rivals was perhaps the most successful.
Stephen Beresford, Malcolm Rennie and Jonathan Aris, among others, made this revival of Sheridan’s masterpiece a complete joy to direct. It was gorgeously designed by Nancy Surman and played to very appreciative houses in Salisbury.
This production neither plays it too safe nor seeks the extremes of the avant-garde; the kind one hopes for from a theatre such as the Salisbury Playhouse…It shows why Britain needs provincial theatres producing their own plays, offering a middle way between the high art of London’s creative powerhouses and the vanilla mediocrity of most commercial productions. As so many provincial theatres are becoming merely waystops for low-calorie rehashes of West End blockbusters, it is good to know there are some beacons out there for us non-metropolitans.