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The Liar is a play written by David Ives, who has adapted it from French playwright, Pierre Corneille’s work of the same name. This play has been picked up by the “Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey”, where it is currently being staged. Even though it essentially tells the same story as its French counterpart, Ives insists that his version of the story is more a “transplantation” than an “adaptation”, which means it is only widely based on the original. Moreover, since the original play was written in French back in 1643, there could have been much subjectivity in how it was to be translated.
But whether it sticks to the original or creates something new, Ives has managed to put together a play which is charming, intelligent and makes for a vibrant comedy. The play was staged for the first time in Washington D.C. in 2010 where it was the “Shakespeare Theatre Company” itself that built up the show bit for bit. The show is written entirely in rhyming verse and this is only artistically made possible through the keen and quick witted mind of Ives. Prior to The Liar, he had been working with a very popular Broadway show, “Venus in Fur”. This show was known for its sex appeal and edgy quality. This is in contrast to The Liar, which is more about wit and comedy than anything else. Audiences can buy The Liar tickets for this month’s shows online.
The focal point of the entire story is Dorante, played by the talented Brian Cade, who is as rich as he is young and handsome. The play is set in 17th century Paris, and so our gentleman, in an attempt to woo ladies and become a top suitor, tells stories of his bravery and strength in military and spreads romantic intrigue. This is not only to win the hearts of the local women, this is also to establish irk among his rivals. He explains how effectively he spins such lies to his manservant, a simple boy who cannot tell a lie himself.
Dorante’s fabricated splendor takes in both Clarice, played by Jane Pfitsch, who is vivacious and loud and her friend Lucrece, portrayed by Maya Kazan, who is more reserved and quite. Clarice is engaged to Alcippe, portrayed by Clark Carmichael, who is utterly envious of Dorante, but would not speak a word of it. After trying to smooth talk the two girls, he ends up confusing their identities. This leads to him telling even more lies which puts him in a strange situation. His father, Geronte, played by actor Jim Hopkins, begins to arrange Dorante’s wedding to a different girl, unbeknownst to him.
In a subplot, Cliton is intrigued by the night and day contrast of a pair of identical twin sisters, both of whom are played by Katie Fabel. Isabelle is more daring and saucier, which Sabine is more ladylike and primmer. Coincidentally, they are also serving girls to the two ladies, Clarice and Lucrece.
By creating such a plot, Ives has spun the web for an intelligent and brilliant comedy which is both situational and enticing. The dialogue ranges from being stylish, and fitting to the 17th century Paris people have come to know and love, to silly and humorous. He play is also laden with puns and clever one liners that encompass the audience.
The play has been directed by Paul Mullins, who has managed to put together this elaborate program. With all the costumes and staging and heavy dialogue, Mullins has managed to create an aura of ease and clarity, making the entire affair seem nothing less than simple to the audience. Dorante is shown to be an effervescent personality who can work the room like no other and improvise with his lies and stories to no end. All these lines have been so artfully written that they never seem out of place, and seem to flow smoothly into the plot.
The beautiful period costumes have been designed by Candida K. Nichols, who has captured the old Paris just enough without overwhelming the audience with too much colors or trimmings. The set has been designed by Michael Schweikardt who too has avoided taking the over the top route. His designs are elegant and well fitted into every situation, making them suitable backdrops. At the same time, they capture the time and era that the play is set in. The décor also consists of French chandeliers and other iconic streetscapes. The Liar tickets are definitely worth buying.
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