What do you get when you cross the 17th century father of French tragedy with a 21st century logophile? You get the hilarious and yet touching adaptation of Pierre Corneille’s The Liar by contemporary American playwright, David Ives. Corneille was one of the greatest French dramatists, often mentioned in the same breath with the likes of Moliere. And David Ives has adapted his classic work into a modern farce, with classic elements, that will keep you laughing and impress you with linguistic flair.
The Denver Center Theatre Company opens their new 2011-2012 season with this production and it is a lively and bright way to ring in the new year. Directed by Kent Thompson, The Liar is the story of Dorante, a charming young man newly arrived in the capital, and he has but a single flaw: He cannot tell the truth. In quick succession he meets Cliton, a manservant who cannot tell a lie, and falls in love with Clarice, a charming young woman whom he unfortunately mistakes for her friend Lucrece. What our hero regrettably does not know is that Clarice is secretly engaged to his best friend Alcippe. Nor is he aware that his father is trying to get him married to Clarice, whom he thinks is Lucrece, who actually is in love with him. Throw into the mix a pair of crazy twins, and you’ve got a very funny and very chaotic rollercoaster ride…. oh, and it is all in rhyme.
Yes, with all of these names and different mistaken identities, it would be easy for anyone to get lost – however the strong direction and talented cast carry this literary burden with ease proving that with this Ives translation, it is indeed All in the Timing.
The ensemble cast is led by Drew Cortese as Dorante, with a quick wit and charming demeanor, it is easy to fall for this liar, pants on fire or not. Matt Zambrano as Cliton is also delightful. He is warm and friendly, welcoming the audience from the very beginning, and brings a new wit and charm to the traditional “sidekick” role. Another big stand-out was Amy Kersten taking on the roles of Isabelle and Sabine, a pair of hilarious and very different identical twins. Creating two distinct personalities, Kersten is simply hysterical in this notable performance.
The Denver Center’s Space Theatre is the perfect venue for this type of production as well, the seating in the round provides the perfect view for every seat in the house, and the quick transitions and stunning costumes all work together to transport the audience to the 17th century… though the witty and sardonic delivery reminds us just how modern we truly are. The Liar is the perfect production for a romantic night out for David Ives fans or anyone that appreciates classic literature and modern linguistic panache. But be warned – a play that is performed entirely in verse has one large side effect that just won’t go away. You’ll be rhyming all that night and all the next day. So go see this show at the Denver Center to get a big smile, it will be a great time and will be worth your while.
The Denver Center Theatre Company Presents:
David Ives’ The Liar
Adapted from the comedy by Pierre Corneille
Through October 16, 2011
CLICK HERE for tickets and details