Review: Burns and Murray Take on “The Liar” at Shakespeare & Company [Berkshire on Stage]
by Gail Burns and Larry Murray
Larry Murray: Those who love language are in for a shock when they see this farcical play about love and liars. David Ives has taken an absurdly dated 17th century French farce by Pierre Corneille, Le Menteur The Liar and brought it kicking and screaming into the 21st Century at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox. If you saw it at the Comédie Française where it is still performed, you would swear off costume comedies. But at Shakespeare & Company you will wonder why you hadn’t heard of it before. It’s an absolute delight.
Gail Burns: If George Washington couldn’t tell a lie, the main character, Dorante (David Joseph) is constitutionally incapable of uttering the truth, no matter the circumstances. And all of this is done in iambic pentameter, with never ending rhyming. It’s wordplay on speed.
Larry: I found it closer to The Three Stooges meet Shakespeare with its ridiculous slapstick and high faulting’ literary devices. It’s the first play in memory that appeals to both the lowest common denominator and the high scholarly pretensions, don’t you think?
Gail: I have often taken Ives to task for pandering to that low denominator in his original works for the stage, but here the challenge of writing in verse has helped him channel his inner word nerd. The writing here is both funny – as Ives always is – and erudite. And director Kevin Coleman has his actors jumping through physical as well as verbal hoops in the process.