New York | 2h 10m | Already closed

The Liar

From 40 critic and 151 member reviews
Members say: Clever, Funny, Entertaining, Delightful, Great acting

About the show

Classic Stage Company presents David Ives' adaptation of Pierre Corneille’s 'Le Menteur,' a 17th-century farce filled with misunderstandings and mistaken identities. More…

Dorante is a charming young man newly arrived in the city, and he has but a single flaw: He cannot tell the truth. In quick succession he meets Cliton, a manservant who cannot tell a lie, and falls in love with Clarice, a charming young woman whom he mistakes for her friend, Lucrece. Misunderstandings and intricate lies soon ensue sparking this new take on the classic comedy. 

2h 10m | Already closed | Classic Stage Company (East Village)


"In the era of 'alternative facts' and 'fake news,' David Ives' delightful adaptation of Pierre Corneille's 17th-century French farce, 'The Liar,' could not be timelier. Written in rhymed couplets - just like the original - the language is delicious and the anachronisms for its time period add a dollop of piquancy to the fun." Full Review

Village Voice

“It's a masterwork of baroque plotting, a little comic fugue in which the simplest of conceits leads to a host of convoluted entanglements. The biggest surprise is that Corneille, one of French literature's most revered tragedians, could be so funny…An expert dramatist in his own right and a delightful versifier, Ives is in top form. A virtuoso script like this will flounder without a strong hand and strong performers, but this show handles it spectacularly.” Full Review

The New York Times

"'The Liar' is, throughout, an effervescent delight. Mr. Ives’s lyric and comic invention never falters as he blends, in capering, cascading verse, both the cultivated language and decorous rhythms of classical comedy and cheeky, up-to-the-minute slang...Michael Kahn, the longtime artistic director of the Shakespeare Theater in Washington, unsurprisingly proves supremely adept at guiding his actors through the verse, so that there’s no daylight between character and language." Full Review

Bob's Theater Blog

"Ives is in top form and the production is another triumph of style over substance. The slight plot, a trifle based on mistaken identities, is performed with conviction by an excellent cast...Michael Kahn directs with a light touch. My only reservation is that it is almost too much of a good thing. The slenderness of the plot barely supports the play’s length, despite all its cleverness." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"Dishonesty is the best policy in 'The Liar,' at least when it comes to delighting the audience...The references ricochet between the court of Louis XIV and the most recent edition of 'Variety,' and Michael Kahn's fast-paced, expertly cartooned production is filled with actors who know how to make the most of this comic cognitive dissonance...The fun rarely flags...Ives' arrant japery can be enjoyed entirely for its tonic qualities. Whatever century you're in, hilarity never goes out of style." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"The chief enjoyment lies in Ives' notable deftness at writing entertainingly clever rhymes, often with corny groaners accompanied by a self-deprecating tone showing just how much he's aware of his own outrageousness...Kahn's sprightly troupers...race along with energy and flair, getting the fun from every pun, and making the two hours pass agreeably...For all the skill and effort expended, 'The Liar' remains on the pleasantly amusing side of the comedy scale, rarely tipping toward hilarity." Full Review


"Sharp and funny verse comedy...A sparkling Classic Stage Company production directed by Michael Kahn...Kelly Hutchinson gives a fun turn doubling as the flirtatious Isabella and her twin sister, Clarice's stern and domineering maid, Sabine. Adam LeFevre is sweetly gregarious as Dorante's father, Geronte...The plot isn't the point here. Ives is a proven master of wordplay and Kahn has his company emphasizing his wit at a clipped pace." Full Review


"Words win the day whenever Mr. Ives takes on a centuries-old classic. Even liars are fun and funny when 'translaptated' by him...It helps that Michael Kahn, who directed this production's premiere in DC, is on board to ensure that prevaricating Dorante's misguided courtship of a Parisian beauty erupts into deliriously entertaining mayhem to extend the humor of the word play with typical comic ingredients...Ives' verbal wizardry makes the entire play feel as if just written." Full Review

The Clyde Fitch Report

"Ives’ infinite jokes land consistently because they’re so well played...The director takes obvious care that Ives’ crackling lines trip off the actors’ tongues so felicitously that audience members often cheer. Everything is lickety-split, all the more entertaining for being so...The stand-out performance is a revolving door—it’s whomever is speaking at the time...They’re all flawless...Still, special praise must go out to Elrod. A forever-reliable stage clown, he’s a stitch." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"Romantic, ribald, classical, modern, lyrical, thumping—Ives maintains, amplifies, and deconstructs these contradictions countless times across the two-hour evening, somehow exploring every conceivable permutation among nine sharply defined characters without ever wearing out the gimmick's lilting welcome...When the execution grates, it's because Ives shirks the high standards he's set for himself...Otherwise, Ives is in fine form, his writing lively and his plotting smart." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"A superb farce replete with delightful characters caught up in hilarious situations. 'The Liar' lands on stage at the perfect time and reminds theatergoers of the enduring importance of vaudeville in times of political upheaval...David Ives earns his wordsmith accolades in this ‘translaptation’...The cast is uniformly impressive...Director Michael Kahn keeps the energetic cast moving at breakneck speed appropriate to the farce." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"Between the verse of Mr. Ives and the clowning of Mr. Elrod, it is Cliton who instantly engages our attention and affection at CSC. Elrod might well be the best farceur to turn up since James Corden...Conn, Mendes and Pedlow all add to the evening’s charms, but it’s hard to hold the spotlight when there is a master clown upstage...'The Liar' is sparklingly witty fun and merits a slot on your playlist." Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

"A delightful farce…Ives meshes all of this into iambic pentameter, a rhythm that threatens to become soporific but is rescued by the sheer wit of the adaptation. Michael Kahn has directed with briskness and an eye for what to stress to obtain maximum laughter. The character collage is felicitously portrayed by excellent actors…The overall result is a breezy romp that is consistently enjoyable, and becomes another feather in the cap of Ives." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Ives has breathed new life into Corneille’s' Le Menteur,' a wacky seventeenth-century comedy. A game, stylish cast under the direction of Kahn zips commandingly through Ives’ iambic-pentameter couplets, which echo the original French while also making zippy use of modern English. 'The Liar' is as fresh today, in Ives’ literate, witty retake, as it must have been in 1644...Kahn’s finesse with his gung-ho cast keeps the play rolling along like a well-oiled, cheery train." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"A comedy in verse, filled with buoyant plotting, relentless wordplay and just enough gravitas to make it matter. Add in an excellent ensemble, gorgeous costumes, an elegantly simple set and invisible direction by Michael Kahn and you’ve got yourself a very satisfying evening of theater...A solid first act becomes a terrific second act. Elrod is a delight throughout as the truth-telling master-of-ceremonies Cliton. Kelly Hutchinson practically steals the show." Full Review

Theatre Reviews by John Clum

"Corneille's comedy 'The Liar' is every bit as delightful as any play by Moliere...In this production, the language is the star of the show. David Ives has created a delightful feast of witty verse. It is sometimes anachronistic, sometimes raunchy, often surprising and always great fun. The actors seems to relish the chance to speak language like this... Veteran Michael Kahn has directed with flair, but never allows the physical action to upstage the verbal wit." Full Review

Edge New York

"Undoubtedly funny and utterly ridiculous in all the best ways…With all of its over-the-top ridiculousness, ‘The Liar’ takes farcical theater to its limits, and its campy, hyperbolic rendering of the form teeters just on the edge of being too much without ever really going over...Regards must be given to playwright David Ives...and director Michael Kahn for interpreting the vision, but the cast also stands out for being the vehicles of the hilariously absurd." Full Review

Let's Talk Off-Broadway

"This play is for everybody who loves words, word play, unexpected puns and rhymes of an unbound imagination. It’s hilarious–and expands one's sense of the English language...Michael Kahn has directed an able cast, with Christian Conn as Dorante, Ismenia Mendes as Clarice, Amelia Pedlow as Lucrece, and others who share their perfect timing to fill out the humor. I particularly loved Carson Elrod as Dorante’s bumpkin butler—naive but he learns fast...It’s a privilege to see 'The Liar.'" Full Review

Paste Magazine

"An airy and erudite adaptation of Corneille’s 'Le Menteur'...The humor builds to a riotous second act finale, but in the age of fake news and shallow denigration from the highest office, serious subtext can’t help but be felt...Director Kahn brings a deft comic touch that’s necessary for farce. The biggest laughs carry a catharsis with them and a lack of retribution seems fitting. The cast works intuitively off each other, grounded by a seemingly effortless tour-de-force performance by Elrod." Full Review

Stage Buddy

"Ives' laissez-faire reworking of the 17th-century play, only amended with some new scenes and subplots, is a theatrical confection...Under the crisp direction of Michael Kahn, the players bound about the stage, admirably agile...Ives' translation is extremely accomplished in its meter and rhyme, and is littered not only with modern references to Sterno, Chanel perfume and contact lenses, but dramaturgical Easter eggs." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"A hilarious romp...Deliciously directed with quickness and great flair for the ridiculousness by Michael Kahn...For all the craziness and silliness of the dialogue, the idiosyncratic references, and the over-the-top antics, the emotional underlying truth is still present and accessible...This wonderfully hilarious play may have raised my spirit at a rough time in our lives." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"A sparkling if sometimes overbright comedy...Mercilessly allegro and dense with enjoyments, it can sometimes feel a bit exhausting on the receiving end...At the breakneck tempo set by director Michael Kahn, some of the actors seem to strain to get every joke to land with a thump...Still, the troupe is mostly expert, and in the case of Carson Elrod, better than that...In any case, to laugh heartily in the theater again, after what seems like 400 years, is worth any quibbles." Full Review

Time Out New York

"As in Ives’s superb 'The Heir Apparent,' much of the 'The Liar’s' pleasure stems from a continual flow of clever verbiage trippingly delivered by a vibrant cast that includes Carson Elrod and Kelly Hutchinson. As lies flood our news feeds daily, the play’s subject might not seem so funny anymore. But high-level theatrical escapism of this nature makes a strong argument for itself." Full Review

AM New York

"The text, which is made up of rhymed couplets, combines sly wit and old-fashioned romantic rituals with coarse humor, a modern point of view and countless anachronisms...Staged with speedy comedic flow by Michael Kahn, 'The Liar' is a lighthearted, light-as-a-feather delight. The small cast, wearing deluxe period attire, delivers the rhymed banter and physical gags (such as repeated slapping and mimed swordplay) with youthful, hyperactive vigor." Full Review


"Master wordsmith David Ives has once more translated and transmutated a French comedy using perfect pentameter (rhymed verse), creating a sweet yet tart soufflé, expertly prepared by director Michael Kahn and served up by a talented cast...Ives doesn’t entirely let politicians or lawyers off the hook (there are a couple of smartly timed jabs at these professions), but 'The Liar' is far less interested in making us think than it is in making us laugh." Full Review

Ambitious, Clever, Delightful, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you enjoy being surprised with laughter.

Don't see it if are a stick on the mud, because it is a FUN evening in the theater that will have you leaving the theater, surprisingly happy.

Clever, Delightful, Hilarious

See it if You go to the theater to be entertained.

Don't see it if you have the flu.

Also Delicious dialogue, energetic acting, lovely costumes, plot with enoug... Read more Read less

Clever, Delightful, Great acting

See it if you enjoy great acting, wonderful verse in iambic pentameter, a wonderful well acted intelligent funny show

Don't see it if you can't endure outstanding theater steeped in the past with great regard for today's culture

Entertaining, Funny, Great acting, Great writing, Must see

See it if You love zany comedy in verse set in 1600s Paris poking fun at the rowdy bawdy times. Oh this was such fun. The audience loved it!

Don't see it if You want a serious drama and don't like to laugh out loud. Don't like zany period farce.

Clever, Delightful, Great acting, Great writing, Great staging

See it if you want an incredibly funny and witty play. Ives' translation is brilliant.Acting is virtually flawless. Carson Elrod shines. Don't miss it

Don't see it if you have trouble following an old fashioned farce. Just go along for the ride. It is meant to be confusing. Very funny and engrossing.

Great acting, Great writing, Hilarious, Entertaining, Clever

See it if you like 17th c fluffy rom-coms, brilliantly adapted to contemporary language, directed and performed beautifully in an intimate space

Don't see it if you don't like stories of confused identities, told in pentameter; due to 3-sided seating view may be obstructed from some seats.

Also the "fantastic" sword fight with running commentary was incredible; i ... Read more Read less

Hilarious, Intelligent, Great acting, Great staging, Must see

See it if You love clever puns, appreciate the quirky humor of David Ives ("Venus in Fur") and don't mind iambic pentameter that's not Shakespeare.

Don't see it if You dislike period comedies and don't get puns.

Also I'm a fan of the actor Carson Elrod, who has major role in this deligh... Read more Read less

Effervescent, Clever, Great acting, Great writing, Great fun

See it if you love wordplay, clever plotting, pure entertainment, mistaken identities, wit, cleverness, restoration comedy without the formality.

Don't see it if you can't focus on densely clever language in rhyming iambic pentameter.

Clever, Delightful, Entertaining, Great acting, Funny

See it if you enjoy old-fashioned theatre reinvented in a way that blends the old and the new seamlessly and is still great fun.

Don't see it if you are not curious about how XVII century humor can be reshaped to make midern audiences laugh.

Great acting, Quirky, Great staging, Great writing, Hilarious

See it if are a fan of mr ives plays, the cast is an excellent group of actors. very funny, we had a blast

Don't see it if you don't like to laugh

Delightful, Funny, Great acting, Clever, Refreshing

See it if You enjoy a really good comedy with great acting, historical 17th century background with contemporary flair, something really different

Don't see it if You don't like rhyming verses, and don't enjoy funny plays, don't like anything Shakespearean-like

Absorbing, Clever, Entertaining

See it if If you're a fan of David Ives and enjoy smart plays with interesting female characters.

Don't see it if You aren't a fan of smart witty drama that's at times hilarious.

Clever, Entertaining, Funny, Delightful

See it if You want to laugh and come away thoroughly entertained. You love mistaken identity and great entertainment-the entire cast was amazing!

Don't see it if If you do not like iambic pentameter or if you cannot pay attention as you may miss some amazing laughs

Clever, Delightful, Entertaining, Funny, Great staging

See it if Gem of a production, fine acting, direction and completely delightful. Top notch!

Don't see it if If the classics bore you

Delightful, Entertaining, Funny

See it if You like entertaining 17th century costume farces with contemporary throw away lines. Terrific poetry translation, excellent acting.

Don't see it if You don't like farces or plays in poetry or versions of old plays.

Clever, Funny, Hilarious

See it if you need an injection of silly bawdy theatrical fun and love silly rhymes

Don't see it if you don't like silly

Clever, Delightful, Funny, Great writing, Great acting

See it if U love interplay of classic language rhythms mixed with modern speech a la Hamilton in a 17th century play brilliantly updated by David Ives

Don't see it if You don't want to laugh at brilliant rhyming wordplay by a terrific cast in a beautifully written modern update of a classic comedy

Clever, Delightful, Entertaining, Funny, Great acting

See it if you like great acting, and a fun romp!

Don't see it if you hate verse, and classical theatre. ALthough it is classical with many funny modern updates.

Clever, Delightful, Entertaining, Funny, Great writing

See it if Like clever plays

Don't see it if Like Ives a lot. The show was fun and well acted

Clever, Delightful, Funny, Great acting, Great writing

See it if you enjoy French farce and David Ives very clever rhyming couplets. Very well-acted

Don't see it if You don't like French farce

Delightful, Entertaining, Funny, Great acting, Great writing

See it if UR up for a delightfully witty script w/ more verbal dexterity + wit than the last 5 shows you've seen combined delivered by a terrific cast

Don't see it if You have no sense of humor and don't want to be highly entertained for 2 hours - or don't like iambic pentameter + non-stop rhyming verse.

Also I LOVED this show. It is clever and funny and sublimely plotted and wi... Read more Read less

Clever, Delightful, Enchanting

See it if You think, as I do, that David Ives is a very funny (and talented) playwright.

Don't see it if If a costume drama in rhymed couplets doesn't sound as funny to you as proves to be.

Delightful, Funny, Hilarious, Refreshing, Entertaining

See it if you like a delightfully silly comedy with a great cast (and Carson Elrod who seems an perfect match to David Ives' comedic plays).

Don't see it if you need a deep plot in your comedies.

Funny, Delightful, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if Great performances

Don't see it if You don't need a laugh

Clever, Delightful, Entertaining, Great acting, Funny

See it if you like a period comedy that doesn't take itself too seriously. very enjoyable rhyming script

Don't see it if you don't like a bit of goofiness or the rhyming pentameter annoys you.

Cast & Creatives (17)