The three plays collected in this volume demonstrate Sheridan's unerring ability to create unrivalled comedy out of ingenious plots, witty repartee, farcical situations and flamboyant characters. And while he never overtly moralizes, Sheridan uses brilliant comedy to deflate hypocrisy and satirize the manners of his age.
In The Rivals, Captain Absolute becomes his own rival for the hand of Lydia Languish - wooing her under another name, while her aunt, the verbally inept Mrs Malaprop, wishes her to marry the real Captain.
School for Scandal continues the theme of imposture when Sir Oliver tests his nephews by appearing to them in disguise, and learns that reputation and the approval of society are of little value. And The Critic, featuring the pompous Puff and the arrogant Sneer, is a mocking depiction of the theatre, playwrights and, of course, critics.