YORK Settlement Community Players will hold auditions for Richard Brinsley Sheridan's 1775 comedy of manners The Rivals later this month.

Graham Sanderson's production will run in the York Theatre Royal Studio from November 16 to 26. "I’m hoping to include two Saturday matinees, so 11 performances in all; Wednesday to Saturday, the first week and Tuesday to Saturday, the second week."

The auditions will take place at Clementhorpe Community Centre on Sunday, June 26 from 2pm to 5pm and Tuesday, June 28 from 7.30pm to 9.30pm. "They will consist of readings from Sheridan's play and work in small groups on short extracts for performance, script in hand," says Graham. "Scripts will be provided. There's no need to prepare any audition piece, but you will be expected to stay for the whole session."

Rehearsals will begin on Sunday, September 18. "From then on, I intend to rehearse each Sunday, 2pm to 5 p.m, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7.30pm to 9.30 p.m," says Graham.

Analysing the abiding appeal of Sheridan's first comedy, he says: "The Rivals is set in an era in which even those on the fringes of polite society are much concerned with their appearance and how others see them and think of them: a 'selfie' society over two hundred years before our own.

York Press:

Graham Sanderson, director of The Rivals

"The play is a comedy, but the humour – much of it very funny indeed – arises not from larger-than life caricatures but from people whose human frailty we can all recognise; people who manage through foolishness or by twists of fate and fortune to get themselves into absurd situations. Like all good comedy, it flirts with potential disasters and tragedies."

Among the principal characters is Jack Absolute, a young army captain and heir to a considerable fortune, who assumes the humbler title of Ensign Beverley to enhance his romantic appeal to the young woman whose love he wants to win, Lydia Languish. Lydia is a wealthy, romantic young woman who would rather risk her fortune by eloping with a half-pay ensign than conform to the authority of her aunt and guardian, Mrs Malaprop.

Mrs Malaprop, Sheridan's most celebrated character with her unfortunate way with words, is determined to thwart Lydia's plans for a love match, but is involved in a romantic intrigue of her own, under the pseudonym of Delia, with Irish baronet Sir Lucius O'Trigger.

Sir Lucius, who is given to fighting and duelling, believes he is courting Lydia but is in fact corresponding with Delia through the letter-carrying services of Lydia's maid, Lucy.

Bob Acres also thinks he is courting Lydia, but his letters are going undelivered. Sir Lucius encourages him to challenge his rival, Ensign Beverley, to a duel.

Further roles are Sir Anthony Absolute, Jack's irascible father; Julia Melville, engaged to Faulkland, who devises false stories to test her love; Fag, Jack Absolute's servant and witty observer of all those around him; and the doubled-up roles of David, sharp-tongued servant to Bob Acres, and Thomas, a coachman who is a little old-fashioned in his ways and dress.

Should you need more details, contact Graham by emailing graham@sandskirr.plus.com.

Did you know?

Actor-manager Tate Wilkinson presented The Rivals at York Theatre Royal from April 8 1775, only three months after Sheridan's comedy was premiered at Covent Garden.