The Critic

Definition

Theater

  • A burlesque by Sheridan, first performed at DruryLane in 1779. Subtitled 'A tragedy Rehearsed', it is much the bestof the many satires of the theatrical world inspired by Buckingham'sThe Rehearsal. Sheridan was also writing from bitter experienceas the manager of Drury Lane. His main targets were the vogue forheroic and sentimental drama, as represented in particular by theplays of Richard Cumberland (1732 - 1811), and the sorry stateof contemporary theatrical criticism.

    The main action takes place at a rehearsal of The SpanishArmada, a ludicrous work by the irrepressible Mr puff,who is also the producer. The play-within-a-play features historicalcharacters such as Sir Walter Raleigh and Lord Burleigh (see Burleigh'snod) as well as a romantic subplot concerning the love betweenTilburina of Tilbury and the Spaniard Don Ferolo Whiskerando. Alsoat the rehearsal are the amateur critics Dangle and Sneer and thewriter Sir Fretful Plagiary, a character based on Cumberland.Their inept comments on the action provide one of the main focusesfor Sheridan's satire.

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