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Burbage Theatre Tackles “The Liar”

LiarGo see The Liar, a play of quick wit. It serves up such laughter, you’ll guffaw and spit!

Admittedly, that is silly poetry. But it is the faintest hint of what you will experience at the Burbage Theatre Company’s riotous production of The Liar. The Liar is an inventive David Ives adaptation of a play from the 1600s French farce by Pierre Cornielle.  Ives is a favorite of the Burbage Theatre Company, which favors absurdist fare, but this is fairly straightforward fun, delivered at the speed of light.

The Liar is the story of a man who cannot tell the truth no matter what. Can one ever believe a man who admittedly lies easily, in great detail, and at will? Dorante (Church) arrives in Paris and immediately acquires the manservant Cliton (Tim White), falls in love with Clarice (Olivia Khoshatefeh) who he mistakes for her friend Lucrese (Lara Hakeem), one is secretly engaged to the perpetually enraged Alcippe (James Lucey), and well, it proceeds with more mistaken identities, serious peril for Dorante because of his lies, and a few surprises.

Jeff Church, actor, writer and artistic director of the Burbage Theatre Company is a lunatic, a loon, a raving maniac! That is, as an artist and the lead character of Dorante (The Liar). He takes on the multiple roles of director, title character and even set designer. Church runs, leaps and twirls about the entire stage, literally a whirling dervish of energy. With impeccable enunciation, he is visibly perspiring only five minutes into the play. Mercifully, the venue is air conditioned.

That is not to say that Church is an egotist. Other members of the BTC, Alex Duckworth, Andrew Iacovelli and others, assisted Church with the direction. “It is great fun,” says Church, but admits it also ultimately is exhausting.

Audiences have grown accustomed to theater companies that choose not to use period costuming.  It is clearly the talent and vivid characterization of the players of the Burbage Theatre Company that communicate all to the audience.  The only drawback is the sheer breakneck speed at which the play proceeds. The lines fly by so quickly that some of the jokes are lost due to absent reaction time.

Besides Jeff Church as Dorante, of particular note is James Lucey as Alcippe, who seems to delight in his irate stomping about, always “up in smoke” about something. A nicely seasoned performance is given by Nathaniel Lee as Dorante’s father, the only sane character in the story. Rachel Perry is suitably diverse as Sabine and Isabelle, and both Lara Hakeem and Olivia Khoshatefeh give strong, spirited performances as the lovely ladies, Clarice and Lucrese.

Previews are over and the official premiere of “The Liar” is on Thursday, June 6 at 8pm. It continues at the William Hall Library, 1825 Broad Street, Cranston, RI on June 7, 8, 13, 14, 15. All performances are at 8 pm. Tickets are $15 general admission, $10 for students.

For more information about the Burbage Theatre Company, their members and schedule please go to www.btctheatre.webs.com.

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