BWW Reviews: Denver Center's THE LIAR - C'est Magnifique
THE LIAR is a hilarious comedy about Dorante who has one problem: he can't stop lying to get what he wants, including the lovely Clarice - or is it Lucrese? Mistaken identities, tall tales,
and complications abound in this classic 17th century French comedy by Pierre Corneille, and "translaptated" (translated and adapted) into hilarious rhyming verse by the witty and capable 21st century genius David Ives (All in the Timing).
So this is what it would look like if Pierre Corneille, Will Shakespeare, and Christopher Guest had met up for a few bottles of bordeaux at the tavern one night and brainstormed an idea for a rompy French farce! It was très drôle (fun!) to weave between traditional and contemporary linguistic styles, all while keeping within a steady rhyming verse. I also appreciated that the cast both had fun with and made fun of the entire process - puns and anachronisms, iambic pentameter, rhyming verse, and couplets (oh my!) What is most encouraging is that David Ives has made the classic French farce accessible to the technologically overstimulated younger generation of today. Fantastique!
Drew Cortese as professional liar and master of the airtight alibi Dorante commanded the stage. To say Cortese's memorization skills are simply bien (good) would be an egregious understatement. If Dorante is a cunning master of untruths, Cortese is a master of linguistic acrobatics. His wild tales of war heroism win the hearts of Clarice (wonderfully played by Amelia Pedlow) and her friend Lucrese (Jeanine Serralles in a standout performance). Madcap trouble ensues (of course!) when Dorante falls for one woman thinking she's the other. Matt Zambrano as sidekick/narrator Cliton made me laugh out loud; his first monologue anchored the humorous tone for the show. Amy Kersten as servant twins-from-hell Isabelle and Sabine offered a fun and energetic portrayal.
The Rococo art design on the stage floor was simply magnifique (gorgeous!) and the strategic
lighting design by Charles MacLeod complimented it beautifully. The biggest surprise was the pop-
up set by scenic designer Lisa M. Orzolek that seemed to appear out of thin air from the sides of the stage, ceiling, and floor. The costumes by designer David Kay Mickelsen were period-perfect, and the original music and arrangements by Gregg Coffin supported the energy of the actors without interfering with their dialogue delivery or the pacing. Director Kent Thompson utilized all aspects of the circular stage by having the actors enter and exit in unexpected places, including the upper balcony, making for an interactive experience.
David Ives has said that his "translaptation" of THE LIAR is "a wonderful hymn to the artistic.
Because, basically, every artist is in some sense a liar, creating truth out of fiction. And in the end, the liar gets exactly what he wants by telling lies."
Well, I'm NOT lying when I say THE LIAR will put some joie de vivre in your step and is a great show to start off the Denver Center's new season. THE LIAR plays at the Space Theatre in the Denver Center through October 16th. For tickets and information contact the Denver Center at 303-839-4100 or online at www.denvercenter.org and... bien s'amuser! Enjoy!
Photo Credit: Terry Shapiro
Drew Cortese as Dorante
(l-r) Amelia Pedlow, Matt Zambrano, Drew Cortese, Jeanine Serralles
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