Year: 1985

Title of the play: The Critic

Author: Richard Brinsley Sheridan

Director: Sheila Hancock

Others in the Cast: Roy Kinnear, Selina Cadell, Greg Hicks, Claire Moore, Eleanor Bron, Jonathan Hyde, Ian McKellen, Stephen MacDonald, Laurance Rudic, Simon Dutton, Tristram Wymark, Hugh Lloyd, Claire Moore, Julie Legrand 

Company/Event: National Theatre Company Ian McKellen-Edward Petherbridge Group

Theatre and location: Olivier Theatre, London

Other productions of the same play: 1986 - Odéon-Théâtre de l’Europe, Paris International Theatre Festival, Blackstone Theatre, Chicago

Plot summary: A burlesque on stage acting and play production conventions. 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. 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.

Peth’s role: Sir Fretful Plagiary

Reviews: McKellen is Mr. Puff, a hyperkinetic and vaguely Celtic specialist in panegyric, which is to say, a forerunner of the modern public relations man. From touting others, he has turned to writing his own epic tragedy, The Spanish Armada. At a rehearsal, everything goes wrong. The actors drop whole swatches of dialogue as turgid and unplayable. The bit players upstage the leads, who swat them. A sword fight is a model of slapstick ineptitude. A Minister of State (Petherbridge) comes out, stares at the audience long and balefully, and departs; he is, Mr. Puff explains, contemplating politics but discreetly not discussing it. William A. Henry III. Time,  May. 26, 1986

Production details: Here 

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