UI play explores the comedy of love and lies


Lying is a daily occurrence. Whether we think about it or not, everyday dialogue is smattered with exaggerations, misrememberings, and white lies. For the character of Dorante, though, the proclivity to lie is much more severe.

The Liar is an adaptation of Pierre Corneille’s 17th-century French farce Le Menteur, and will be featured as the next University of Iowa Mainstage performance. The play will be staged at 8 p.m. today, in the Theater Building’s Mabie Theater. Performances will run through April 26.

The adaptation by David Ives preserves the 1644 setting and has its characters using rhymed iambic pentameter.

“It’s brilliant, witty, comedic,” said Eric Forsythe, the play’s director. “We don’t speak so wittily today; there’s a level of translation necessary to convey some things to the audience. The language of the play is very much alive and reminds you why poetic diction can be so fascinating. It’s highly physical work on stage, and the lines are like verbal gymnastics.”

The story follows Dorante, a man with the notable flaw of being unable to tell the truth. In the play’s opening, we see him encounter his foil, Clinton, a manservant incapable of lying. Soon after, he falls in love with a young woman whom he mistakes for another woman, and so the characters enter into a web of miscommunication and misunderstanding.

“The story can be a little confusing; we spent time as a cast figuring out what’s happening and how to display it on stage,” said Kevin Argus, who portrays Clinton. “In part, it’s a classical farce: There are mistaken identities, a lot of weddings, twins. But then there are a lot of modern references and allusions scattered throughout.”

Graduate student Allyson Jean Malandra plays Lucrece, the woman Dorante believes he has fallen in love with when in actuality he’s smitten with her friend Clarice (Keyla McClure). Malandra described the performance as “a marathon for our mouths, brains, and bodies.”

“The most enjoyable part [for me] has been working with the cast and crew on the language,” Argus said. “We want the language to feel natural, or at least unforced, despite the rhyming pentameter.”

“Even just yesterday, having our costumes for the first time with our wigs was a huge adjustment,” Malandra said. “There are so many physical demands in how we stand and also use our fans.”

Though Corneille is not well-known for his comedies, Forsythe and his cast are confident Ives’ adaption will attract fans.

“I think its lightheartedness and comedy will appeal to audiences,” Malandra said. “We all yearn and burn for someone to be special in our lives … and once we find someone who is special, we should enjoy them and the time we have with them. It’s really a sweet sentiment, and the play is … a valentine to the audience.”


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