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.

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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. 

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

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


"Even if the play isn't the laugh-out-loud comedy of the year, it comes as a welcome respite from our postmodern age of words without meaning...Ives' adaptation is slow to get off the ground...It never culminates in the tear-producing belly laugh we truly crave. Director Kahn makes up some of the difference with a caffeinated staging that keeps the ornate plot churning along...A diverting, visually sumptuous, but only mildly funny evening at the theater." 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

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

The Hollywood Reporter

"Ives takes what should be a tough sell for modern audiences and turns it into an awful lot of fun...The production...doesn’t always live up to the writing’s sparkle. Most of the ensemble lack the necessary comic flair for the piece, and Kahn’s staging, for all its fast pacing, tends toward the one-note. Thankfully, there are exceptions...It’s these performers, and Ives’ script, that give the evening its buoyancy and its genuine comic pleasures of both the slapstick and sophisticated variety." 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

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

Cultural Weekly

"This latest fluffy dessert is delicious and full of lighter-than-air rhymes. Did I mention the script is all in verse?...Though Dorante is the title character and Christian Conn makes him a dashing rogue, the real star of the evening is Carson Elrod...Elrod is a masterful clown, expertly prattling and mugging, but never going over the top...Hutchinson comes in a close second behind Elrod in the comic sweepstakes." 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

DC Theatre Scene

"Its main strength lies not in its timeliness or plot but the subversive whimsy of its language...In bouts of meta-theatrical playfulness, Ives ropes in his characters to grapple with the challenge of the versifying, which is sometimes cringe-worthy, sometimes hilarious–most often, both...Director Michael Kahn has assembled a competent eight-member cast and puts them through a fast farcical pace, with well-placed slapstick and comic bits." Full Review

Front Row Center

"Ives’ reach is vast and his timing is impeccable...Characters fly back and forth like so many badminton shuttlecocks. Plot takes second place to action. Belief is surrendered at the door, and all we have to do is follow along. Indeed we do, and it is a fine and funny ride. It does, however, lack sparkle. Carson Elrod and Kelly Hutchinson provide plenty of zest, and you cannot take your eyes off them when they are onstage. But there was a missing element among the others." 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

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

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

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

New York Daily News

"Written in verse, the script showcases Ives's near-peerless way with wordplay and wit, gleeful anachronisms and inside jokes. Still, the exposition-heavy first half isn’t quite as breezy or fizzy as one might hope. And director Michael Kahn’s cast might crank the volume down to 10 — Classic Stage Company is a small house, so why shout? After intermission, the plot untangles. So does the production — and everything clicks." 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


"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

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


"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

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

The Wrap

"Early in this French farce, a manservant warns us that the play is in verse. He could have also warned us about the plot, the direction, and most of the performances, because Ives’ clever verse is about the only entertaining diversion offered by 'The Liar'...The only suspense here is how words end up being rhymed. At this moment on the New York stage, Ives is without a doubt the best wordsmith...Only Elrod and Adam Lefevre have the requisite style and ease with the language." 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


"Ives is back in familiar territory, the Classic Stage Theater, with his breezy, good-natured translation of Pierre Corneille’s mid-17th century comedy, 'The Liar'...Amiably directed and cast by Michael Kahn, the verse play involves confusion about women named Clarice and Lucrece and their amorous, swashbuckling young men...Just when the rhyming anachronisms get really self-conscious and tiresome, the two-hour frolic is over." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

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.

Funny, Great acting, Entertaining, Fluffy, Farcical

See it if Farces, comedies of manners,

Don't see it if hate farces

Clever, Delightful, Great writing, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you like good, fun acting and writing

Don't see it if classics are not your thing

Funny, Clever, Enchanting

See it if you enjoy farce. Despite my ahange in the taste for humor, I found this delightful. Loved Carson Elrod

Don't see it if you expect serious drama or a musical.

Ambitious, Intelligent, Disappointing

See it if you enjoy Ives' language, puns, and adaptations. Carson Elrod outstanding actor.

Don't see it if you don't like shows in verse, "period" pieces, mixed-up identities, confusing characters. Ives too clever and gets a bit tiresome.

Clever, Great acting, Great writing, Hilarious, Entertaining

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

Funny, Clever, Delightful, Entertaining, 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

Funny, Delightful, Refreshing, Hilarious, 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, Clever, 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

Banal, Excruciating, Overrated, Dull, Monotonous

See it if you want to see a very good performance by Kelly Hutchinson. She is the only actor who appears to know what she is doing on stage.

Don't see it if you have higher expectations than a college-level production of a French farce.

Also Very disappointing. The actors all seem to be on different pages. Some... Read more Read less

Delightful, Great writing, Playful, Sly

See it if You exult in language, especially humorous and sophisticated verse. Thoroughly top notch cast and writing. Pure escapism.

Don't see it if You can no longer laugh at pathological liars who seem to escape all consequences Folks near me seemed to struggle with hearing devices

Funny, Dizzying, Great acting

See it if you ca deal with rhyming. comedy

Don't see it if if you cannot tolerate listening to rhyme throughout the show

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.

Funny, Clever, Great acting, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if an adaptation of a 17th cent. French comedy done in verse (with modern references), you loved Ives' The Heir Apparent and you want to laugh

Don't see it if you don't want a play about a liar or one about mistaken identities that cause confusion (and laughter on our part) or a play done in verse

Also I am always a fan of Carson Elrod (especially in Ives plays) with his ... Read more Read less

Funny, Clever, Delightful, Great acting, Great writing

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

Funny, Clever, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if you enjoy Shakespearean-type plots, want a good laugh, and enjoy good acting.

Don't see it if you can't appreciate a silly story.

Funny, Clever, Delightful, Great acting, Entertaining

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.

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

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

Ambitious, Clever, Intelligent, Quirky, Indulgent

See it if The Liar in verse 'n deed will amuse you 'n mislead. Once a classic play now modern in many ways. See it for the fool, whose clowning rules.

Don't see it if Sing-song verse you find perverse and actors who shout a curse. Though lively in action it's all of a fashion and wears out its attraction.

Funny, Cliched, Dated, Interesting modern re-write

See it if you like farce, verse in iambic pentameter, period costume, good actors.

Don't see it if enter screaming, stay screaming is your idea of bad direction, or you are looking for a rationale for this production. Not classic at all

Funny, Clever, Intelligent, Entertaining

See it if you’re not adverse to seeing a play told in verse. Able playwright, cast and crew makes an old story seem fresh and new.

Don't see it if farce is not your thing, the forced plot will have a familiar ring. And then for some, even worse, the thing is totally told all in verse

Also So may varied plays written by David Ives, it’s clear that for diversi... Read more Read less

Funny, Clever, Delightful, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if Like clever plays

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

Funny, Clever, Enchanting, Exquisite, Entertaining

See it if you like elegant farce-style comedy in Renaissance times, are a fan of the brilliant Carson Elrod, want a good laugh

Don't see it if You are not a fan of comedy or rhyming pentameter in which the play is presented, don't like cheeky adaptations with current references

Funny, Delightful, Quirky, Entertaining, Fluffy

See it if You enjoy great theater in CSC's intimate space. This play is full of large performances, great costumes & clever writing. Laugh out loud.

Don't see it if You aren't in the mood for some silly comedy. Can get a bit much in the language but overall a fantastic play full of fun.

Clever, Cute, Fluffy

See it if Cute and clever but also missable. A few good jokes and moments. Light fare. Banter and laughter from backstage spoiled act 2 for me.

Don't see it if Speaking in meter or French farce isn't your cup of tea.

Cast & Creatives (17)