REVIEW: THE LIAR Smart, Sexy Funny; Good Times

Good Times, Posted on August 5

Pants on Fire

By Christina Waters

Toby Onwumere (Cliton) and Brian Smolin (Dorante) in Santa Cruz Shakespeare¹s production of The Liar by David Ives. Photo by Shmuel Thaler.

Toby Onwumere (Cliton) and Brian Smolin (Dorante) in The Liar by David Ives. Photo by Shmuel Thaler.

Smart, sexy and hilarious, Santa Cruz Shakespeare’s The Liar is a triumph

Santa Cruz Shakespeare’s nimble new production of The Liar is the sort of searing live comedy that blows all things digital right off the map. Every single actor in this splendid production is remarkable. That needs repeating. Each and every actor adds, and nothing interferes. Romping through a very brisk two and a half hours, the entire ensemble ran away with the audience on opening night. The play by David Ives (based on a 17th-century comedy by Pierre Corneille) offers a virtuoso weave of commedia dell’arte, SNL, and hip-hop.

We all know this guy—the liar, Dorante—an amiable arriviste who blows into town and wants to make things happen. With each person he encounters Dorante exaggerates and spins the truth further and further out of recognizable shape. Not out of malice, mind you, but essentially because he gets carried away. As the hyperbolic dandy Dorante, the beautiful Brian Smolin has more fun than should be legal, getting in and out of sticky situations by the seat of his beribboned pants. Meeting up with Dorante on his first day in Paris is the equally resourceful but pathologically honest Cliton (a flat-out brilliant Toby Onwumere), and the two join forces to woo a pair of beauties, one way or the other. But wait! Our over-confident liar gets his potential conquests confused, a situation blithely exploited by the playwright with a nod to Cyrano de Bergerac, and soon both women are after Dorante’s head. With his immediate, um, affections aimed at Lucrece (the juicy Sierra Jolene), the liar finds that he has mistakenly courted her best friend Clarice (the saucy Mary Cavett) instead. All hell breaks loose, especially since Dorante has told so many overlapping, interlocking lies to so many—including Clarice’s secret fiance, his dapper comrade…



Tickets on sale now for the 2015 season, which features three outdoor productions, starting with the wickedly romantic Shakespeare comedy Much Ado About Nothing, opening July 3; followed by David Ives’s modern adaptation of the wickedly hilarious 17th century farce, The Liar, opening July 24; and Shakespeare’s wicked tragedy, Macbeth, opening August 7. Plus, SCS continues the tradition of its intern-showcasing Fringe production with four performances of the wickedly festive comedy The Rover, starting August 18.


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