By Mike Buzzelli, ‘Burgh Vivant
Long ago, Pierre Corneille wrote “Le Menteur,” but here comes “The Liar,” a David Ives’ adaptation. No one knows why Ives’ chose this French farce to remake, but disregard speculation. Ives’ tells the story completely in verse. His dialogue rhymes, but it’s also witty and terse. Timid audience members, you have nothing to fear. It’s much easier to understand than William Shakespeare.
It will take few stanzas to untangle this tale. It’s a simple story, but the rhyme mustn’t fail.
A charmer named Dorante (Ethan Saks) wanders the streets. An out of work Cliton (Patrick Halley) is the first person he meets. Cliton needs work and becomes Dorante’s new hire. Though Cliton learns quickly he now works for a liar.
Our boy Dornate has trouble telling the truth. Clinton can’t lie and it’s much more uncouth. Both men get in deep trouble from their affliction. But they are firm in their position with utmost conviction.
Within a few hours walking ‘round the City of Lights, Dorante’s in love and he’s picked a few fights.
He’s fallen for Clarice (Erika Strasburg) though he doesn’t know her name. Unfortunately for him, there’s a rival who’s put in a claim. Brash Alcippe (Charlie Murphy) desires Clarice’s hand. It’s not a request; it’s more of a demand. When Alcippe believes Dorante has had his way with Clarice, he won’t stop till the boy’s gravestone says “Rest in Peace.”
Meanwhile, Lucrece (Sarah Silk) Clarice’s bestie is single, prickly and little testy. When it comes to beauty, she is just as divine. Don’t worry, my friends, it all works out fine.
There’s more plot to mention, but we can’t go line by line (I can’t transcribe the full folio). Let’s just not leave out Isabelle and Sabine (both played by Julianne Avolio).
There’s also Geronte (Sam Tsoutsouvas) who is not immune to Dorante’s wicked ways. The boy’s a terrible liar, but his father thinks it’s a phase.
Alcippe has a comrade, Philiste (John Michnya). Sabine’s is his mistress, and he is her mister. Isabelle likes Cliton, but he’s unaware she’s a twin sister.
There’s more to the story, it’s quite a bit meaty. But this review must remain spoiler free, sweetie.
Kinetic director hires actors from across America. We’re glad he stayed local when he hired our Erika. Her smile luminescent, her skin alabaster. It’s easy to see why Andrew Paul cast her.
This critic tries hard to stick to the facts, but he sees a bright future for Ethan Saks.
There are few performers of her ilk, high praise must be heaped on Sarah Silk.
Sam Tsoutsouvas has a booming, commanding presence and voice. When casting a show, he’s a superb choice.
You won’t miss a moment when Charlie Murphy charges the stage, his character half testosterone – the other half rage. If you couldn’t quite tell, I think his performance was swell.
Many times I have noted Avolio’s face is elastic, but she’s more than just a funny face, she utterly fantastic. Keep one eye on her while the others are talking. When our Liar is lying, she’ll drop her jaw, roll her eyes, or be otherwise mocking.
Whether you pray to Jesus, Allah or Krishna, let’s hope we see much more of John Michnya.
Halley’s character Cliton is pivotal role. With a lesser talent the show would be droll. His performance is great. See for yourself – get there by eight.
It seems sycophantic to praise each member of the troupe, but this review is up first…so call it a scoop!
Michael Petyak trained the actors to fight with a sword. When combatants meet, you will not be bored.
With a costume designer of quite renown, know that they were designed by our own Kim Brown. The colors bright, the combinations of style myriad, her clothes transcended the play’s French period.
If there’s a gripe it’s with some of Ives’ rhymes. It strains the ear one or two times. The dialogue flows, it’s lyrical and loose, and sometimes it sounds a lot like Doctor Seuss.
This play is joyous, hilarious and fun. Please see it before the end of the run.
“The Liar” is at the Henry Heyman Theatre, 4301 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213. For more information, click here.