At its most basic form, “The Liar” is a soap opera set in 17th century France.
You’ve got the heart throb male lead and his well-meaning companion. You’ve got the pretty girl and her shy best friend.
You’ve got the tough-guy boyfriend trying to keep his girl from other guys. You’ve got the girl that is sometimes the prim and proper type and at others, a wild girl with no inhibitions.
It has everything a modern drama could ask for.
As I said, that is “The Liar” at its most basic form. The play is really about a man struggling to accept himself as he really is. Dorante, a young man who has just moved to Paris, just wants adventure, finding real life too boring to live in.
He’s constantly making up stories to get him out of any minor trouble he may not want to deal with. It’s ironic that his valet and companion, Cliton, cannot help but tell the truth. It is almost a physical compulsion for him.
He is hopeful where Dorante is cynical. Cliton stays in the background while Dorante is the first person to step forward. The chemistry Drew Davidson and Michael Morrison bring to the roles of Dorante and Cliton, respectively, is like that of lifelong friends, even though the characters have known each other barely two days.
The play follows Dorante and the trouble he gets himself into by making hasty decisions, only looking to get what he wants and lying any chance he can to get himself out of a sticky situation. Dorante’s ability to lie at the drop of a hat is almost something to marvel at. He is able to build on top of lies in such a nonchalant way, the audience almost takes it for truth.
The audience will quickly be sucked into the anticipation of the truth coming out.
Dorante falls quickly for a maiden he passes on the street, but gets her name confused for that of her cousin. Cliton also becomes smitten with the maid of the cousins, but the maid has a twin who will not tolerate any of Cliton’s nonsense. When everyone is secretly in love with someone, it makes for a lot of hurt feelings and confusion that just leads to hilarity in the end.
The maidens do not help keep things straight. They take on the identities of one another to reveal Dorante’s true self. He believes he is talking to one girl when he is really talking to the other. It is a miracle if the audience can keep everything straight.
Interestingly enough, the play does not end condemning the act of lying. In a closing monologue delivered by Dorante, he said how lying is not something that is completely bad, but just not something one should do at all times. While most people do not condone lying and preach honesty being the best policy, this play does not go that far. After all, we are only human.
The wordplay is clever, adding to the comedy of it with how far some of the rhymes are stretched.
Honestly, “The Liar” is a good laugh that anyone can enjoy. Audiences will enjoy all of the misunderstandings and odd situations the characters get themselves into and watch Dorante seamlessly get himself out of them all.