Gallery: A burlesque treat for theatre goers

A COMIC burlesque masterpiece featuring outrageous costumes and mischievous behaviour has opened at a theatre.

A production of The Rivals, by Richard Sheridan, opens at the Mercury Theatre in Colchester today (Thursday February 24).

After many years of being produced as a twee comedy of manners, director Gari Jones has found a more mischievous side to this comic classic.

He has been influenced by the original 18th century definition of ‘burlesque’ meaning to send up, humour and parody with grotesque and cabaret.

The results are a visual feast as colourful characters live out their farcical lives promenading the decadent streets of Bath in clothes influenced by everything from period costume of the time to fashions of the present day.

In The Rivals young Lydia Languish, rebelling as only she can, escapes the suffocating conventions of society and a looming humdrum arranged marriage, by feasting on steamy page-turners and fixing her heart on a handsome foot soldier.

Her head is a whirl of secret assignations and glamorous poverty as she tricks her overbearing and verbally challenged Aunt, Mrs Malaprop into getting what she wants.

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Wild romantic confusions abound in this wonderfully chaotic and fast-paced tale of love, deceit and intrigue.

Tickets for The Rivals are priced from �8.75 and are on sale now from the Box Office on 01206 573948 or online at

Performance times are 7.30pm Monday to Saturday with matinees at 2pm on Thursday March 3 and 2.30pm on Saturday 5, Thursday 10 and Saturday March 12.