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SANTA CRUZ SHAKESPEARE 201526 DRAMATURGS NOTES ariane helou David Ivess The Liar 2010 comes to us through layers of translation and adaptation. His play is based on Le Menteur The Liar 1643 by the great French dramatist Pierre Corneille 1606-1684. Corneille in turn adapted his comedy from La Verdad Sospechosa The Suspicious Truth 1634 by the Golden Age Spanish playwright Juan Ruiz de Alarcn y Mendoza. Corneille began his career writing comedies though he is most famous for his popular but controversial masterpiece Le Cid 1637. A tragicomedy Le Cid violated the strict classical forms espoused by the French theatrical establishment in response to critical backlash Corneille turned to writing classical tragedies. Le Menteur marks Corneilles return to his comedic roots a sprightly shrugging-off of the tragedians mantle. Corneille wrote in rhyming couplets a convention of seventeenth-century French drama that rarely succeeds in English translation but is executed with panache by David Ives. Ivess sparkling verse recreates the aesthetic vibrancy of the Baroque theatre in a thoroughly modern idiom and sensibility while his addition of a couple of well-crafted subplots heightens the comic stakes. The Liar of the plays title is Dorante a former law student with a thirst for adventure and a compulsion for telling tales. Although his lies spawn the mistaken identities and mishaps of the plays comic plot they do not harm those around him. His moral compass may sometimes be unreliable but Dorante is not presented as a villain who lies maliciously. Occasionally he lies to extricate himself from a sticky situation but more often than not he gets carried away by the pure joy of spinning a good yarn. For Dorante lying is the ultimate creative endeavor an art form parallel to the poetic inventiveness of the playwright. For what is a piece of theater after all if not an invention an intricate and joyful fabrication