THE LIAR: French Farce adapted by David Ives from the comedy by Pierre Corneille. Directed by Robert Currier. Marin Shakespeare Company, Forest Meadows Amphitheatre, Dominican University, 1475 Grand Ave., San Rafael, CA, 415-499-4488, www.marinshakespeare.org Through September 23, 2012.
THE LIAR at Marin Shakes a barrel of fun.
Before the play begins Associate Artistic Director Leslie Currier informs the Sunday matinee audience some of the ins and outs of the play we are about to see. It is absolutely unnecessary but highly informative. All you must do is sit back and enjoy one of the best productions staged by the Marin Shakespeare Company that has assembled it best Equity actors to romp around in fancy dress 1600’s costumes (Abra Berman) speaking in poetic (sort of) couplets in the French farce The Liar.
The play was written in 1643 by Pierre Corneille and Washington’s D.C. Shakespeare Company commissioned the wickedly humorous David Ives to write this adaptation that was produced there in 2010 and has appeared on the boards off Broadway and in local venues across the country. Ives insists “It’s neither exactly a translation nor an adaptation. It’s what I call a translaptation . . .” He goes on to talk about social satire and how lies can go on to feed love and create happiness. Observations that are completely unnecessary (se paragraph one) because the delightful lines and intricate lies stand on there own creating a masterly funny play. Marin Theatre Company performed his seminal series of short plays titled All in the Timing a few years ago and if memory is not faulty, matches the laugh meter quality of The Liar.
It all begins when Cliton (Stephen Muterspaugh), who ends up as the servant to the main character Dorante (Darren Bridgett), has an opening expository monolog telling us that the play is written in pentameter and that he has a fatal flaw of not being able to tell a lie. He need not worry with Dorante as his mentor by the end of the play he becomes fairly adept at the art of fabrication/prevarication. Bridgett and Muterspaugh are perfect for their parts. They both bounce around the stage with Dorante affecting a swash-buckling manner and Cliton doing double takes and pratfalls. One might suspect that Ives had Bridgett in mind when he wrote the adaptation.
Dorante arrives in Springtime Paris avoiding his father Geronte (Jarion Monroe) who has arranged a marriage for him. In only one day in Paris and after one look at Clarice (Cat Thompson) Dorante falls in love desirous of marriage. You won’t believe the extravagant lies Dorante fabricates for the ladies to the chagrin of Lucrece (Elena Wright) the companion to Clarice and the put upon Cliton.
Complications occur with the arrival of the buffoon Alcippe (James Hiser ) and his companion Philiste (Scott Coopwood). Alcippe is Clarice’s secret fiancé and Hiser milk’s the role for a modicum of laughs with some partially funny shtick. Wait there are other characters to round out the cast. They are identical twins Isabelle and Sabina, servants to Clarice and Lucrece respectively. Cliton flips for the vivacious Isabelle but somewhere along the plot line he confuses the puritanical Sabina for Isabelle. Natasha Noel plays both parts making quick exits and entrances and seems to have a ball doing so. The audience certainly has fun with the quick change act.
Thrown in with all the personal intricacies of the plot are tricky lines and stage directions. In one scene Bridgett is chastised for attempting to explain his love in Shakespearean language and in unison all members of the cast intone, “No Shakespeare!” Jarion Monroe as Geronte has not shed his Shakespearean mantle and is great contrast to the silly farce that surrounds him. Running time about two hours with intermission of fun that received appreciative extended applause.
Kedar K. Adour, MD
Courtesy of www.theatreworldinternetmagazine.com