What is The Liar anyway? Adapted by French playwright Pierre Corneille in 1643 and adapted into English in 2010 by David Ives (All in the Timing, Don Juan in Chicago, Is He Dead? to name a few), it is a show that has not seen much stage time, especially here on Cape Cod. In fact, when Ives’ agent called and asked if he’d be interested in translating Corneille’s Le Menteur for the Shakespeare Theatre Company of Washington, D.C., he had never heard of the play. His agent sent the play over and several hours later, with the help of a fat French dictionary, he found himself astonished. Everything about it spoke to him. The rippling language. The simplicity of the premise alongside the intricate rigor of the plotting. Its wide understanding and humanity, seasoned with several pinches of social satire.
But translate the whole play, as-is? There were plenty of unsatisfying or outmoded elements in the plot. “But that’s what Corneille wrote in 1643” is no defense. When translating a play one must ask: What is the action underneath the words, who are these characters, what drives them, and finally, what is this play all about? In the end Ives did to The Liar exactly what Corneille had done in 1643 to his Spanish source: he reworked it to his own ends. The result is what he calls a “translaptation”, i.e., a translation with a heavy dose of adaptation.
“How liars are punished by their own lies was not the moral of this exercise,” Dorante, the play’s hero summarizes, “but rather how, amidst life’s contradictions, our lives can far out-fick the finest fictions.” This statement sums up what one can expect when viewing The Liar. With clever writing, witty anachronisms that do not distract from the historic setting, and more contradictions than you can count, The Liar makes for an entertaining evening of theater.
To try to fully explain the plot of this show would give away the many twists and turns and surprises throughout the script. To simply explain: Dorante (played by Geof Newton) is 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 (Will Oxtoby), a manservant who cannot tell a lie, and falls in love with Clarice (Racine Oxtoby), a charming young woman whom he unfortunately mistakes for her friend Lucrece (Susanna Creel). What our hero regrettably does not know is that Clarice is secretly engaged to his best friend, Alcippe (Todd Gosselin). Nor is he aware that his father (Jefferson Post, also the show’s director) is trying to get him married to Clarice, whom he thinks is Lucrece, who actually is in love with him. To add to the insanity is Alcippe’s friend Philiste (Stuard Derrick), and Isabelle and Sabine (both played by Heidi Moeykens), twin servants with a Jekyll & Hyde vibe.
The Cape Cod Times has called The Academy’s production, “an energetic and mischievous production, exuding delicious dialogue enhanced by physical comedy… The ensemble cast’s playful and spirited delivery of the rapid-fire dialogue is always competent, and frequently inspired.”
This comedy is sure to warm your chilly winter nights this season, so don’t miss out! The Liar at The Academy Playhouse is running through February 18th. Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 PM – Sundays at 2 PM. BOX OFFICE: 508-255-1963
“The Whole Truth About The Liar” a forward by David Ives
“The Story” by Dramatists Play Service (https://www.dramatists.com/cgi-bin/db/single.asp?key=4268)