After a spate of very fine, but intensely serious plays, I needed a rollicking night of theatrical fun.
Writers’ Theatre delivered it with David Ives’ “The Liar.”
Director William Brown’s presentation of the comedy by Corneille hits the mark from beginning to end. Set in Paris in 1643, we’re first introduced to Cliton, the manservant who cannot lie—the perfect foil for his new boss, Dorante, who does nothing but lie. It’s a comedy of misunderstanding from start to finish, as Dorante tries to woo Lucrece, who really is Clarice, who is engaged to Dorante’s best friend Alcippe. There are proposals, called-off engagements, meetings after dark, swordplay and an uncle who never, ever does come down.
It’s impossible to highlight any one performance over the rest, as the entire cast is smashing. LaShawn Banks plays cynicism to the hilt as Cliton, witness to every lie Dorante tells—each one larger and more fanciful than the last. And speaking of the Liar, Nate Burger has found a pitch-perfect comedic tone in delivering his tall tales—tales told mostly out of angst and love. For himself.
Laura Rook and Kalen Harriman both disappear beautifully into their roles as Lucrece and Clarice, two friends that spend the length of the play vying for Dorante’s attention, even though Clarice is engaged to Alcippe, played to hilarious perfection by Michael Perez.
Alcippe’s manservant, Philiste, is brought to life by Samuel Ashdown, who takes every advantage of a smaller role to play comedic foil to Perez. Adding to the confusion is Philiste’s love for Sabine, handmaiden to Clarice and twin sister to Isabelle, handmaiden to Lucrece. Anne E. Thompson takes on the dual role with folly and passion. And Jonathan Weir’s Geronte is the perfect moral compass for his son, Dorante, adding some levity to the comedy as a father so disenchanted with his son’s behavior.
“The Liar” is all-out fun and engaging—so much so if you’re sitting in the front row, you may end up with an imaginary stab wound. Get ready for a good time.
“The Liar” runs through July 28 at Writers’ Theatre, 325 Tudor Court in Glencoe. Tickets, ranging from $35-75, are available by calling 847-242-6000 or online at Writers Theatre’s website.