The Liar

Photo Courtesy of Twitter.

Photo Courtesy of Twitter.

Friday night, The Liar directed by Bill Morris premiered at the Performing Arts Center [PAC]. The play is a whisp of a comedy and a true delight. Told in iambic pentameter, it is the story of a compulsive liar named Dorante [played by Drew Gripe] in 17th century Paris, who confidently deceives everybody to charm women. However, Dorante is more confident than he is bright, so he fails to be consistent in his lies. It’s a simple premise and that might be one of its virtues.

The performers were also wonderful. Gripe played Dorante perfectly, a jackass who is so ridiculous that you can’t help but like him. The Dolphin’s very own Tom Vazquez was also great as the supporting character Cliton, a pauper-turned-best-friend who can’t lie to save his life. He’s the only one concerned with how Dorante gets deeper and deeper into his lies. Dorante courts Clarice [played with terrific dryness by Noelle Killius] who at first seems to be too good for such an imbecile, but is actually not a saint herself.

She is engaged to the very sensitive Alcippe [played hilariously by Andy Hughes]. However, she won’t dismiss Dorante because she’s always looking for a better deal. Alcippe’s partner in crime is Philiste [Jace Biedekapp], the voice of reason. Lucrece [Brittany Fayle] is Clarice’s best friend who believes herself to be the apple of Dorante’s eye because of one of his lies. Kit Kuebler plays a dual role, as Isabelle, a friend to the leading ladies drawn to Cliton, and as Sabine, Isabelle’s no-nonsense twin who is repulsed by Cliton. Unfortunately, he is unaware they are two different people. Geronte, Dorante’s father, is played by Orlando Ocampo. Ocampo plays the role with excellence, a man taking himself too seriously and, even worse, his son too seriously. The pride he shows in his dunce is also a highlight.

The play benefits from very goofy humor, which is interesting because the playwright of the original, Pierre Corneille, is considered the founder of French tragedies. The gullible nature of Cliton is the perfect foil to Dorante. Cliton goes through about half the play believing all the lies Dorante tells other people; lies that he assumed Cliton would understand were lies. Kuebler gives both her characters a distinct personality, with Sabine having a tone like the Church Chat lady.

The humor can also be very raunchy, as Dorante’s fake stories of sexual encounters are very detailed and graphic. When he tells such a story, it is treated as a monologue, as the company’s jaws drop. In the description of one tale, Chopin’s “Prelude #4” is used to great effect; the peaceful music accompanying Dorante’s filthy fantasies. The stakes in this play are never very high. That’s nice, because it gives the play a light feeling. The screwball plot makes for an easy, enjoyable evening. The Liar will be playing this weekend at the PAC and you shouldn’t miss it!