Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Liar


One of the most enjoyable plays I saw in 2011 was The School for Lies, David Ives’s delightful riff on Moliere’s The Misanthrope, at Classic Stage Company. The cleverness of Ives’s rhymed couplets, full of anachronisms and contemporary references, more than compensated for the silliness of the plot. Three years later, Ives was back at CSC with his “translaptation” (his word) of “The Heir Apparent,” a comedy by lesser known French playwright Regnard. While enjoyable, it did not reach the hilarious peaks of the earlier piece. Now CSC is presenting Ives’s latest adaptation of a classic French comedy, Corneillie’s The Liar (Le Menteur). The good news is that Ives is in top form and the production is another triumph of style over substance. The slight plot, a trifle based on mistaken identities, is performed with conviction by an excellent cast led by Christian Conn in the title role of Dorante and the ever-enjoyable Carson Elrod (“All in the Timing,” “The Heir Apparent,” “The Explorers Club’) as his manservant Cliton, who cannot tell a lie. Ismenia Mendes and Amelia Pedlow are charming as Clarice and Lucrece. Tony Roach is fun as Alcippe, Clarice’s secret fiance. Aubrey Deeker is fine in the less showy role of Philiste. Adam LeFevre brings warmth to the role of Dorante’s father Geronte, Kelly Hutchinson is a delight its the twin maids Isabelle and Sabine. The elegantly simple set by Alexander Dodge and the attractive costumes by Murell Horton enhance the production. Michael Kahn directs with a light touch. My only reservation is that it is almost too much of a good thing. The slenderness of the plot barely supports the play’s length, despite all its cleverness. Running time: 2 hours 10 minutes including intermission.

Comfort alert: The seats in Row A do not have arms.

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