There is usually at least one play in the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s season that I enjoy and this season it seems I had to wait until almost the very end of the season to see it. Pierre Corneille’s The Liar, adapted for STC by David Ives, was brilliance and roll in the aisle funny. A cast of STC favorites including Christian Conn as Dorante, Aubrey Deeker as Philiste, David Sabin as Geronte, Colleen Delany as Isabell/Sabine, Mirian Silverman as Lucrece and Tony Roach as Alcippe are on hand to send audiences howling. They are joined for this performance by STC newcomers Adam Green who was wonderful as Cliton and Erin Partin as Clarice.
The play chronicles 26 hilarious hours of master fabricator Dorante. Upon his arrival in Paris he hires witty sidekick Cliton then proceeds to cut a swath through Parisian high society, wreak havoc with his father’s plans for his [Dorante’s] marriage, woo any number of high-born young ladies, fight a magnificent duel, and get the girl! But which girl…?
Don’t let the fact that everyone speaks in pentameter verse turn you away-David Ives’s translation and adaptation made this a completely approachable comedy. I once translated a book of Pablo Neruda’s poems from the Spanish into German and that (relatively) simple exercise was more than enough for me to know that I wasn’t going to be doing that kind of work professionally. My hat way off to him and other translators of his level for being able to not only translate the play, but keep the meter, the rhyme, and throw in a lot of references to past STC productions!
I found this to be both charmingly and exceptionally acted. And wondered not just once how the actors manage to keep such straight faces when delivering these lines and when the audience is roaring with laughter. There was not one person who was not fully engaged in his role and I, as ever, especially enjoyed Aubrey’s performance. We (meaning me, Lauren, KMac, and a few other friends) always enjoy when he’s in something at STC. The return of Christian Conn (of Beaux’ Stratagem and Love’s Labours Lost fame) was magnificent and Colleen Delany (Way of the World, Titus, Beaux’ Stratagem, Love’s Labours Lost etc etc) could not have played her two roles better. Who doesn’t, after all, love a closet dominatrix? I will also single out Adam Green. His incapable of lying Cliton was the perfect foil to Dorante who apparently could not tell the truth to save his life.
The one warning you will get about this-bring your wool sweaters and ladies don’t bother wearing skirts. It’s bloody freezing in the theatre were it maintains a crisp 68-72 degrees. The actors are all in period costumes (which were beautiful) and giving their energetic performances under hot stage lights so they try to keep it a little cooler to help ensure they don't pass out and deprive the audience of their wonderful performance. There are also lap blankets available in coat check if you forget the sweater! And when you walk in the theatre and get your program, don’t forget to grab a copy of the Asides and read what the always brilliant Akiva Fox, the STC dramaturge (isn’t that just the best word?!) has to tell us in both.
For some crazy reason STC has already released a limited number of discounted tickets for this through Goldstar so snap them up there or directly through the theatre quickly! This one will have full audiences until the end of its run for sure. I guess they really do save the best for (almost) last!