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For theater lover it would be a sin to miss 'Liar' at BGSU PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sentinel-Tribune Staff   
Thursday, 14 November 2013 11:14
Dorante, played by Evan Crawford (left), watches as Clarice, played by Kirby Minor, walks away during the dress rehearsal of "The Liar" Tuesday night in the Wolfe Center at BGSU. (Photos: Shane Hughes/Sentinel-Tribune)
If indeed it is a sin to tell a lie then the latest offering from the Department of Theatre is a sinfully delightful affair.
"The Liar" is contemporary playwright's version of the 17th century French farce by Pierre Cornielle. "The Liar," directed by Cynthia Stroud, is on stage in the Eva Marie Saint Theatre in the Wolfe Center for the Arts starting tonight and running weekends through Nov. 23.
Not a straight translation, but not a thorough reimagining either, Ives layers language conventions one on another. The language is at once lush and a shade archaic in tribute to the original French yet with veins of contemporary slang, all in iambic pentameter. The verse sets up comic bursts of rhyme, and in the spirit of the production, characters will often compliment each other on their especially inspired turns of phrase. 
The tone is set when actor Greg Grimes appears as the character Cliton and banters with the audience, delivering in pentameter the usual admonitions about cell phones and eating in the theater. Then banging his staff for emphasis, he explains what pentameter is. Establishing the metrical expectations is as important to what follows as any plot twists.
Then the curtain rises, and we are in Paris.
That spirit of wordplay fits a tale of a young rogue Dorante (Evan Crawford) who is incapable of telling the truth.
Faced with a simple question he will spin a fanciful tale that's preposterous on the face. But Dorante is a virtuoso liar, and even  someone who knows him and knows he's lying will be inclined to believe him.
On arriving in Paris with affairs of the heart in mind, he engages as his manservant Cliton who is his opposite, a man  incapable of telling anything but the truth.
Even when the servant girl Isabelle (Hannah Berry) invites him to her room, and ask whether he doesn't he think her a "10," he replies, an "8" maybe, earning the first of several slaps.
Sabine, played by Hannah Berry (left), slaps Cliton, played by Greg Grimes during the dress rehearsal of "The Liar" Tuesday night in the Wolfe Center at BGSU.
The plot is a tangled bit of fluff involving lookalikes and mistaken identities. Throughout Dorante is pursuing one young lady by the wrong name. Those confused ladies Clarice (Kirby Minor) and Lucrece (Trina Friedberg) dally their various suitors along, alternately enjoying and being baffled by the confusion that ensues.
Thee coquettish ladies have servants Isabelle and Sabine (also played by Berry), one is lascivious, the other a prude, adding another layer of confusion.
Stir in Clarice's secret fiance the dim-witted Alcippe (Baxter Chambers) and his stalwart best friend Philiste (Chad Campbell) along with Dorante's scheming father (Vincent Gibbs) and there's enough fuel to fire dozens of witticisms. All these unfold with a frothy logic all their own.
Crawford revels in Dorante's fantastic adventures. At one point to make Alcippe jealous, he spins an elaborate, double entendre filled tale of a romantic boat trip on the river that includes an orchestra, five blind vestal virgins and a absurdly sumptious banquet.
At one point he demonstrates to Cliton how to lie. It's all a matter of conviction, he says. That's the key to carrying these slight characters off; the cast brings them to the stage with utter conviction.
Even the stagehands get in the act, going about their duties with choreographed flair.
All ends with the suitable matches made. It's satisfying conclusion to this foppish delight, and that's no lie.
Last Updated on Monday, 09 June 2014 15:36

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