‘The Liar’ at The Colonial Players

The Liar is the (tall) tale of an outrageous liar who manages to charm his way into your heart. Originally written by Pierre Corneille in 1643 and adapted by David Ives in 2010. This adaptation is reminiscent of the era in which it was originally written while still being relevant today.

Dorante (Fred Fletcher-Jackson) is the good-for-nothing son of a French nobleman who has abandoned his studies and headed for the excitement in Paris. He is quickly joined in his misadventures by Cliton (Jeff Sprague), a man who cannot tell a lie. Dorante informs Cliton with some fairly bawdy pantomime that he is looking for amour.

Dorante (Fred Fletcher-Jackson) and Jeff Sprague (Cliton). Photo courtesy of The Colonial Players.
Jeff Sprague (Cliton) and Dorante (Fred Fletcher-Jackson). Photo courtesy of The Colonial Players.

No sooner are the words spoken, than a pair of lovely ladies wander by! In order to impress, Dorante weaves an enormous falsehood of recently returning from pitched battles on an imaginary front. Clarice (Natasha Joyce) is intrigued by his tale, but her cousin Lucrece (Rebecca Ellis) is not so easily swayed. While the scene unfolds, Cliton observes mouth agape and occasionally snacking, as if he were watching a show. At one point, Dorante shouts “Ships Ahoy” and Cliton hands him a chocolate chip cookie.

Dorante decides that he is in love with the lady that with whom he spoke. However, he mixes up the two fair ladies’ names. This leads to him being challenged to duel by Alcippe (Seth Clute), the secret fiance of the lady Dorante fancies himself in love with. Seth Clute is fantastic in the role of Alcippe, his gullibility and righteous anger is incredibly authentic. Of course, Dorante defuses the situation with Alcippe with a series of even more outrageous lies and some help from Phileste, played admirably by Ethan Goldberg.

Dorante’s lies seem set to unravel when his father, Geronte (Marc Rehr), arranges a marriage for him. Dorante’s efforts to squirm avoid a marriage with a bride not of his choosing (or so he thinks) lead to crazy hijinks and more ridiculous lies. You can’t help but root for slimy Dorante, Fred Fletcher-Jackson’s oily charm is captivating.

In the second act, all of Dorante’s lies begin to unravel and he has to do the impossible to ensure a happy ending!

Costumes as designed by Linda Swann, fall in that vague, romanticized Musketeer period. Lucrece’s dress is the most outstanding piece in the production. The embroidered cloak worn by Geronte was a testament to its creator’s skill.

2014_12_the_liar_logoThe hair design evoked magnificently the style of the era, and I loved Clarice and Lucrece’s hair.

It is unfortunate that Lucrece and Clarice largely play as foils for their male counterparts. Natasha Joyce wonderfully portrays Clarice a pampered lady of privilege, almost like a Kardashian sister. Rebecca Ellis’ turn as Lucrece is like watching a small bud gradually blossom into a magnificent rose. Hopefully, we all will be blessed with more of her handiwork in the future. Sarah Wade’s performance as twin maids, Sabine and Isabelle, was fun to watch. She imbued each twin with their own unique personality and could hold her own against Fred Fletcher-Jackson’s Dorante.

The cast members that stole the show did so without uttering any lines at all. Stagehand Michelle (Nicole Musho) and Stagehand Michael (Mike Winnick) manoeuvred the ever moving scenery, disposed of unneeded swords and cleaned up after the leads messes. Both were prone to turn up in amusing places, but Michelle takes the cake. At one point, she erupts from inside of a set piece and then runs out with it. Both Michelle and Michael had great facial expressions and their exasperation with menial labor a constant source of amusement.

Lighting Design by Alex Brady successfully transitions with the changing scenery from the bright daylight of a Parisian park, to the ladies coolly lit parlors and the streets of Place Royale. Lighting Technicians, Kevin Brennan and Lyana Morton, must have some of the quickest hands in the business. Whenever a cast member jumped on a piece of scenery or sprung out into the audience, the spotlight was right there with them.

It took a small army to conceive and construct the Colonial Players set. The marvelous set was designed by Kristina Vanyi who also designed and painted the floor. The floor was painted into an impressive cobblestone pattern that even wandered into some of the aisles. Cseni Szabo assisted with painting the set and floor. That such a substantial undertaking was completed by only two people is astounding. In addition, it took five (5!) carpenters to build the play’s mobile scenery pieces which served as benches, beds, boats and barricades, among other things. Lead Carpenter Dick Whaley and his carpentry crew Norm Janes, Bob Mumper, Jim Robinson, and Ted Yablonski are to be applauded for the their splendid workmanship.

Steve Tobin, Director, has not worked with Colonial Players for 25 years. His return is impressive and exciting. Anything directed by Steve Tobin at Colonial Players must be on your ‘must see’ list.

The Liar has every element of daytime melodrama: twins, mistaken identity, dueling and outrageous lies! It seems to acknowledge its own ludicrousness by winking at it and throwing in even more.

The Colonial Players’ The Liar is a delightful romp. Take the wife, leave the kids at home (unless, you want to explain some rather saucy jokes).

I can not tell a lie, you must see this show!

CP-Liar-728x90 The Liar plays through February 7, 2015 at The Colonial Players of Annapolis—108 East Street, in Annapolis, MD. For tickets, call the box office at (410) 268-7373, or purchase them online.

RATING: FIVE-STARS-82x1555.gif