(Terry Teachout’s article appeared in the Wall Street Jounral, 9/2.)
It isn’t quite right to say that nobody does “The Critic” nowadays, but Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s play, written in 1779, is far less familiar to American audiences than “The School for Scandal” and “The Rivals,” the works of his that remain perennially popular. The current revival by Wisconsin’s American Players Theatre appears to be the first professional production of any consequence to be mounted in this country in the past decade. Yet “The Critic” is one of the best comedies ever written, a backstage farce that offers infinite opportunity to a resourceful director and a cast of virtuoso farceurs. Fortunately, APT has both at its disposal, and William Brown has whipped up a staging whose full-tilt frenzy is strong enough to knock down a building or two.