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 www.lanterntheater.org