Susan Granger’s review of “The Liar” (Westport Country Playhouse)
If you’re yearning for a witty, sophisticated comedy, see “The Liar” at the Westport Country Playhouse.
David Ives’ contemporary adaptation of Pierre Corneille’s 17th century romantic romp about a compulsive liar is filled with mischievous sparkle.
Set in Paris in 1643, it revolves around Dorante (Aaron Krohn), a charming cad who arrives in the Tuileries Garden, where he meets Cliton (Rusty Ross), a manservant who cannot tell a lie. While audaciously spinning tales of his military adventures, Dorante falls in love with vivacious Clarice (Kate MacCluggage), not realizing she’s secretly engaged to his pugnacious friend, Alcippe (Philippe Bowgen). Although Clarice’s more reserved friend Lucrece (Monique Barbee) is aware of Dorante’s glib duplicity, she’s intrigued by him and would make a far better match.
Adding to the fanciful, farcical fun, there’s Dorante’s gullible father (Brian Reddy) and Cliton’s befuddlement with identical twin maids (Rebekah Brockman): one saucy, the other strait-laced.
Commissioned by the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C., where it was originally staged in 2010, it’s meticulously composed in rhyming verse -- iambic pentameter -- by David Ives (“Venus in Fur”) and propelled by Penny Metropulos’ adroit direction.
In the demanding leading role, Aaron Krohn exhibits dazzling linguistic panache, delving into every nuance of David Ives’ imaginative puns and silly jokes in fluid couplets. Indeed, every member of the cast delivers crystal-clear vowels and crisp consonants.
Kristen Robinson’s superb set, consisting of four stylized trees, is minimalistic, in contrast with costumer Jessica Ford’s frilly gowns and satin trousers, illuminated by lighting designer Matthew Richards.
Fittingly, the play concludes with, “How liars are punished by their own lies!/Was not the moral of this exercise. But rather how, amidst life’s contradictions,/Our lives can out-fick the finest fictions.”
You can catch “The Liar” at the Westport Country Playhouse through May 23. For tickets and information, call 203-227-4177 or go to www.westportplayhouse.org.