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Theater review: The Liar catches fire at Classic Stage Company

Theater review: The Liar catches fire at Classic Stage Company
Photograph: Richard Termine

“The unimagined life’s not worth living,” insists Dorante (Christian Conn), the dashing title rake of David Ives’s delicious The Liar. Newly arrived in Paris, he spins a web of deceit to entangle everyone around him: his hotheaded friend (Tony Roach); his doddering father (a touching Adam LeFevre); and two well-heeled young ladies, the impetuous Clarice (Ismenia Mendes) and the shy Lucrece (Amelia Pedlow). In Ives’s merry “translaptation” of Pierre Corneille’s 1643 comedy, energetically staged by Michael Kahn, the story skips in witty rhyming verse toward its requisite happy ending, when the characters pair off as cozily as couplets.

As in Ives’s superb The Heir Apparent, much of the The Liar’s pleasure stems from a continual flow of clever verbiage trippingly delivered by a vibrant cast that includes Carson Elrod (as Dorante’s valet) and Kelly Hutchinson (as twin servants, one as strict as the other is loose). As lies flood our news feeds daily, the play’s subject might not seem so funny anymore. But high-level theatrical escapism of this nature makes a strong argument for itself. As Dorante says of a liar’s contribution to the world, it “shows us what might be—and brings us joy.”

Classic Stage Company (Off Broadway). By David Ives. Directed by Michael Kahn. With ensemble cast. Running time: 2hrs 10mins. One intermission. Through Feb 26. Click here for full ticket and venue information.

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