Penelope Keith and Peter Bowles to Star in West End in Peter Hall's Production of The Rivals | Playbill

News Penelope Keith and Peter Bowles to Star in West End in Peter Hall's Production of The Rivals
Penelope Keith and Peter Bowles will star in Peter Hall's new production of Richard Brinsley Sheridan's comedy The Rivals, beginning performances at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket Nov. 10, prior to an official opening Nov. 23.

The production, recently seen at the Theatre Royal, Bath, will open in the West End the day after director Peter Hall's 80th birthday. The production is also historically significant since the play opened the modern Theatre Royal, Haymarket on July 4, 1821.

Keith and Bowles previously worked together on one of the most watched British TV sitcoms of all time, "To the Manor Born," in the 1980s. This is the first time they have appeared onstage together.

Keith is also well known from appearing in TV's "The Good Life." She was last seen on the West End stage as Lady Bracknell in a production of The Importance of Being Earnest at the Vaudeville Theatre in 2008; other recent theatre work includes Entertaining Angels, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Relatively Speaking and Blithe Spirit.

Bowles has previously worked with Hall on productions of Separate Tables, School for Wives, The Misanthrope and Major Barbara. They most recently worked together on the 2009 Peter Hall Company season in Bath on productions of The Browning Version and Swansong. As well as "To the Manor Born," his other leading TV roles include "The Bounder" and "The Irish RM."

In press materials, the plot is described thusly: "It’s 1775 and the fashionable world descends on Bath, to show off its finery, take the waters, enjoy the gossip and pursue romance. Amongst them are some of the most extraordinary comic characters: the verbally misguided Mrs Malaprop (Keith); her absurdly romantic niece, Lydia Languish; the blinkered Sir Anthony Absolute (Bowles); the blustering Irishman Sir Lucius O’Trigger; and the bumpkin Bob Acres. Throughout the course of a single day these suitors and schemers and their servants indulge in an assortment of intrigues before everyone is paired off to their own satisfaction." To book tickets, contact the box office on 0845 481 1870, or visit for more details.

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