David Ives’ “translaptation,” as he calls it, of Corneille’s 1644 comedy The Liar treads familiar turf for actors. We’ve made a profession out of taking other people’s stories and making them our own . . . and of lying.
I chose this play before joining the faculty at the University of Wyoming, in part because the dialogue alone makes for an entertaining evening. To my relief, I’ve been fortunate enough to find a talented cast that can explore with me a language of physical comedy to support the wit of Ives’ anachronistically playful verse and the comedic ridiculousness of Corneille’s plot (itself adapted from an earlier Spanish production).
The Liar is rare ordinance in today’s theatrical cannon; it is set in a time between the worldliness of Shakespeare and the transcendent indulgence of Restoration theatre, fleshed out with modern sensibilities but given voice through rhyming iambic pentameter. It’s theatre at its most essentially theatrical: Presentational, stylized, and contrived (and re-contrived) in all the best of ways. My hope is that it will prove an accessible primer for anyone intimidated by Shakespearean-style verse (which we’ll have a glorious wealth of this spring at the University of Wyoming), while remaining a stand-alone theatrical experience that is intelligent without being pretentious, approachable without pandering, and is as hilarious and fun to watch as it’s been to rehearse.
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