Penelope Keith and Peter Bowles are to bring their performances in the Theatre Royal Bath production of The Rivals to the West End. The Peter Hall-directed production plays at the Theatre Royal Haymarket from 10 November (press night 23 November).
Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s 1775 farce The Rivals is set in Bath, where fashionable people are descending to show off their finery, take the waters, pursue romance and gossip. Among them are the verbally misguided Mrs Malaprop (Keith), her absurdly romantic niece Lydia, the blinkered Sir Anthony Absolute (Bowles), the Irishman Sir Lucius and the bumpkin Bob Acres. During one day, the characters undertake an assortment of schemes and intrigues until everyone is paired off to their satisfaction.
Keith and Bowles are well used to each other’s comedy performances, having starred together in 1980s sitcom To The Manor Born. Keith, who is also well known for another hugely popular sitcom, The Good Life, was last seen on the West End stage in The Importance Of Being Earnest in 2008. Her many previous stage credits include Blithe Spirit, Time And The Conways, Entertaining Angels and Donkeys’ Years, for which she won a Laurence Olivier Award in 1976.
Bowles, whose television work also includes Perfect Scoundrels and Rumpole Of The Bailey, has worked with director Hall on numerous occasions including productions of The Misanthrope, The School For Wives, Separate Tables and Hay Fever in the West End.
Currently playing at the Theatre Royal Haymarket is Sweet Charity, which announced yesterday it will close on 6 November.