Thursday, February 11, 2016

Review: THE LIAR

Review: THE LIAR




By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer


Readers dear, my pen’s on fire

To praise the charm of Lantern’s Liar.

The cast is nimble, the cast is quick

For sheer amusement, this show’s my pick.


Dueling and wooing and sorting out twins

Seventeenth century silliness wins.

The Liar lies, and the ladies swoon

While witty  language calls the tune.


With fabulations and fictions flying

Despite the obvious lure of lying

Steering you wrong would be uncouth

You’ll enjoy this show and that’s the truth.

David Ives’s translation and adaptation of Pierre Corneille’s seventeenth century French comedy is written in rhyming couplets of iambic pentameter, directed with great élan by  Kathryn MacMillan and performed with panache, brio and all kinds of other foreign-sounding good stuff by a razzle-dazzle cast:  Aubie Merrylees as The Liar, Dorante, who falls in love with Clarice (Sarah Gliko) or maybe it’s actually her friend Lucrece (Emilie Krause) he’s after.  But what of Clarice’s reluctant fiancé (Jake Blouch)?  Dorante’s servant (Dave Johnson) finally takes lying lessons, while Dorante’s father, the beleaguered Geronte (Peter Schmitz) copes with his son’s shenanigans.  As is usually the case in classic French comedy, the saucy maid is the tastiest role, and here there are not one but two maids, both played delectably by Emily Rogge who has, suitably, two suitors (Matt Tallman).

The set (designed by  Meghan Jones) creates locale after locale on Lantern’s tiny stage, enhanced by Shon Causer’s nifty lighting (loved the chandelier!) and the costumes (Maggie Baker) are superb.

Ives has proved himself endlessly surprising, from the high seriousness of New Jerusalem to the goofy, clever merriment of All in the Timing.  The Liar is yet another example of his wide range, but whatever Ives does, he does it with style and immense if smartypants intelligence.


Lantern Theater, 10th & Ludlow Sts. Through Dec.2  Tickets $30-38. Information: 215-829-0395 or


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About this blog

Toby Zinman's night job since 2006 is theater critic for the Inquirer where she reviews New York and London as well as Philadelphia. Her day job: Prize-winning prof at UArts, author of five books about modern and contemporary drama, and doer of scholarly deeds (winner of five NEH grants, Fulbright lecturer at Tel Aviv University, visiting professor in China). She was recently named by American Theatre magazine "one of the twelve most influential critics in America."

Wendy Rosenfield has written freelance features and theater reviews for The Inquirer since 2006. She was theater critic for the Philadelphia Weekly from 1995 to 2001, after which she enjoyed a five-year baby-raising sabbatical. She serves on the board of the American Theatre Critics Association, was a participant in the Bennington Writer's Workshop, a 2008 NEA/USC Fellow in Theater and Musical Theater, and twice was guest critic for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival's Region II National Critics Institute. She received her B.A. from Bennington College and her M.L.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. She also is a fiction writer, was proofreader to a swami, publications editor for the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and spends all her free time working out and driving people places. Follow her on Twitter @WendyRosenfield.

Jim Rutter has reviewed theater for The Inquirer since September, 2011. Since 2006, he covered dance, theater and opera for the Broad Street Review, and has also written for many suburban newspapers, including The Main Line Times. In 2009, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded him a Fellowship in Arts Journalism. Thames & Hudson released his updated and revised version of Ballet and Modern Dance in June, 2012. From 1998 to 2005, he taught philosophy and logic at Drexel, and then Widener University. He also coaches Olympic Weightlifting for Liberty Barbell, and has competed at the national level in that sport since 2001.

Merilyn Jackson regularly writes on dance for The Inquirer and other publications. She specializes in the arts, literature, food, travel, and Eastern European culture and politics. In 2001, she was dance critic in residence at the Festival of Contemporary Dance in Bytom, Poland; in 2005, she received an NEA Critics’ Fellowship to Duke University’s Institute for Dance Criticism. She likes to say that dance was her first love but that when she discovered writing she began to cheat on dance. Now that she writes about dance, she’s made an honest woman of herself, although she also writes poetry.

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