The Theatre department performed their second-stage production in Fletcher Theater on Nov. 4: David Ives’ “The Liar”— a fast-paced farce full of lying, misunderstandings and spanking.
“The Liar,” derived from the 1640s, is about trouble arising in 17th century Paris due to a young law student, Dorante, who can’t help himself from his outlandish lies. Dorante meets a humble servant, Clinton, and falls in love with a young woman named Clarice, who he mistakes for her friend Lucrece. What Dorante doesn’t know is that Clarice is engaged to his best friend Alcippe.
Director Lawrence Lesher is an FSC alumni returning to FSC to direct his second show in Fletcher Theater. Last fall, he directed another farce titled “Tom Jones” inspired by Henry Fielding’s book, and adapted into the play by Mark Brown.
“When Jim (the chairman of the theater department) asked me back to direct again I was ecstatic,” Lesher said. “My goal, as always, was to do a professional show and to have a great deal of fun doing it, there is never enough money in the theater, so enjoying yourself isn’t something to hope for—it’s imperative.”
As a farce (a quick-moving comedy that exaggerates everything, even characterization), this production is full of comedic moments that leave your jaw on the floor – constantly. What separates “The Liar” from other farces is the fact that the dialogue of the play is entirely prose. It is filled with witty rhymes that add another layer to the humor in the show.
Richard Chandler Talkington-Fletcher, a senior at FSC, played the lead role of Dorante. When asked about the biggest challenges with the play, Talkington-Fletcher said lines were the biggest obstacle, as did Mary Bou, a sophomore major taking on the roles of Isabelle and Sabine. With “The Liar” being a rhythmic comedy with little pause, memorization is key. Talkington-Fletcher relates it to “a form of athleticism” as his lines were about 50% of the production.
The only pause in the FSC production was in Act Two. However, it wasn’t in the original script by David Ives. FSC’s version wanted the audience to grasp the emotions Dorante was feeling when his father disowned him. Talkington-Fletcher said it was only a “10 to 15 second” pause, so, with “The Liar” being over a two hour play, it’s essential to remember the lines to keep the show fluid.
As a farce, it is very fast-paced, and the comedic timing is key in order for the jokes to land – if the timing is off, it could ruin the entire punchline. Since it does move so fast, it can sometimes be difficult to catch all the humor inside the dialogue. The audience seemed to grasp all the humor as the show was filled with audience laughter.
Since this is a second-stage production, it was in Fletcher Theater, or “theater in the round” as some students call it, instead of Loca Lee Buckner Theater, which is where all the main-stage productions take place. Fletcher Theater is an original piece of Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture, and it is not a typical theater since it is essentially a large circle.
“I think the most fun part of the show was the first time we got an audience because rehearsing for a farce is fun, but it is incredibly rewarding to finally get to hear the laughter that comes from what we’ve worked so hard on,” Bou said. “This was my first time in a comedic role and I feel like I have a much better grasp on what I’m doing when it comes to comedy in shows.”
The acoustics can make it difficult to understand the actors, so they have to over-enunciate their words so the audience can comprehend the dialogue, but with a full set and full audience, understanding the actors was no issue.
“The show overall was very charismatic, the cast had such exuberance throughout the play which enthralled the audience and left them wanting more,” sophomore Caroline Harrell said. “Compared to other shows I’ve seen at FSC, like ‘Hamlet,’ ‘The Liar’ was more personable, the smaller space helped immerse the audience within the show.”
The next show the theater department is producing is “Carrie” the musical, a main-stage production directed by Jim beck. The dates are Nov. 18-19 at 7:30 p.m., and Nov. 20 at 2:30 p.m., and the second weekend of shows are Dec. 1-3 at 7:30 p.m., and Dec. 4 at 2:30 p.m. in Loca Lee Buckner Theatre.