Saturday, July 15, 2017

Outrageous “Alternative Facts” are Rewarded with Hearty Laughter in THE LIAR

Patrick Halley as Cliton and Ethan Saks as Dorante in Kinetic Theatre's THE LIAR Credit: Rocky Raco
Note: I managed to catch a performance at the Sunday matinee and highly recommend this to my readers. What a great play! The writing by David Ives is brilliant, the cast is superb and Andrew Paul's direction again shows his genius and talent. DON'T MISS THIS ONE - or you'll be sorry!

Kinetic follows up hit production of The Christians with David Ives’ fresh and funny adaptation of Corneille’s timeless farce featuring mischievous servants, mistaken identities, and (of course!) passionate young lovers

The Kinetic Theatre Company continues their 2017 season with the Pittsburgh premiere of David Ives’ The Liar. A marvelous adaptation of Pierre Corneille’s lively farce, this summertime treat for the whole family plays July 13th through 30th in the Henry Heymann Theatre, Oakland. 

From a series of misunderstandings and breathtakingly intricate lies springs one of the Western world’s greatest comedies! This sparkling urban romance is set in Paris, 1643, and features Dorante, a charming young man newly arrived in the capital in search of a wife. The challenge? He has a little problem with the truth. Even when it serves no discernible purpose, he compulsively and ceaselessly – er, how shall we say it? Makes false statements? Proffers unsubstantiated assertions? Presents alternative facts? This sublimely funny adaptation, written in rhymed iambic pentameter, is packed full of verbal ingenuity and has thrilled audiences in New York and across the country. 

Ethan Saks as Dorante and Charlie Murphy as Alcippe Credit: Rocky Raco
Playwright David Ives is as well-known for his original comic one-act plays as he is for breathing new life into 17th and 18th century classical French 
comedies. His award-winning collection of short comedies, All in the Timing, was the most performed play in the country (after Shakespeare) in the 1995-1996 season, and his play Venus in Fur was adapted for film. Other adaptations of note include George Feydeau’s farce A Flea in Her Ear, and The School for Lies, an adaptation of Moliere’s The Misanthrope.

Pierre Corneille (1606-1684) was a contemporary of Moliere and Jean Racine. He is best-known for one of his earliest plays, the tragedy Le Cid, which broke the Neoclassical guidelines for the structure of tragic drama in 17th Century France and was denounced by the French Academy. 
Controversy over the play rose to the level of scandal, as accusations of immorality and plagiarism leveled at the play were countered by Corneille’s release of poems boasting of his talents and defaming a rival author’s character. In spite of all this, Corneille went on to have a long and prolific career, 

Julianne Avolio as Isabelle and Patrick Halley as Cliton Credit: Rocky Raco
The Kinetic Theatre production features Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama alums Ethan Saks and Erika Strasburg as Dorante, the title character, and Clarice, the object of his affections, with Kinetic associate artist Sam Tsoutsouvas as Dorante’s clueless father, Geronte. Sumptuous scenery by Gianni Downs and costumes by Kim Brown make this a visual feast to match Ives’ hilarious text 

Andrew Paul has directed all eight of Kinetic Theatre’s Pittsburgh premiere productions: Joe Penhall’s Blue/Orange, David Mamet’s Romance, Conor McPherson’s adaptation of Strindberg’s The Dance of Death, Charles Marowitz’s Sherlock’s Last Case, Mike Bartlett’s Cock, Peepolykus’ adaptation of Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles, the American premiere of Patrick Marber’s Three Days in the Country, and Lucas 
Hnath’s The Christians. 

Paul recently directed extended runs of Peepolykus’ The Hound of the Baskervilles at Nevada Conservatory Theatre in Las Vegas and the Gulfshore Playhouse in Naples, Florida. His production of David Ives’ The School for Lies at San Diego’s North Coast Repertory Theatre was one of five nominees for the Craig Noel Award for Outstanding Production of 2014 - as voted upon by the San Diego Theatre Critics – and his production of of George Brant’s award-winning play Grounded at Cockroach Theatre in Las Vegas garnered actress Mindy Woodhead Best Actress at last year’s Vegas Valley Theatre Awards. 

This September he will direct Richard Greenberg’s Take Me Out at Nevada Conservatory Theatre and next year he will direct the West Coast premiere of Patrick Marber’s Three Days in the Country at the Antaeus Theatre in Los Angeles. Paul previously co-founded the acclaimed Pittsburgh Irish & Classical Theatre (PICT) and served as the company's producing artistic director from 1996 to 2013.  

Under his leadership, PICT produced more than a hundred plays, festivals devoted to the plays of Samuel Beckett, John Millington Synge, Harold Pinter, and Anton Chekhov, and two successful international tours: Andrew's 2002 production of Brian Friel's Faith Healer starring Bingo O'Malley played to acclaim at thirteen venues in Ireland and Northern Ireland and he appeared as an actor in the 2003 PICT production of Shaw's Major Barbara which performed 14 sold-out performances at the Galway Arts Festival and transferred to Dublin for three weeks of performances at the Pavilion Theatre.  

In 2008, he directed and collaborated with Sir David Hare on the non-English language premiere of his play Stuff Happens at the Slaski Theatre in Katowice, Poland.  In 2010, Andrew was a featured speaker at the World Theatre Conference in Baku, Azerbaijan.  
Erika Strasburg as Clarice and Sarah Silk as Lucrece Credit: Rocky Raco
Ethan Saks makes his Kinetic Theatre debut as the title character in The Liar. His previous Pittsburgh credits include Peribanez (Quantum Theatre), as well as The History Boys and The Mask of Moriarty (PICT). An accomplished classical actor, he has performed with Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Utah Shakespearean Festival, Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, and the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. 

Erika Strasburg won the 2015 Broadway World Award for Performance of the Year for her role in the Off-Broadway production of St. Joan of the Stockyards, directed by Peter Kleinert. She has appeared with Kinetic Theatre last season in the critically-acclaimed productions of Cock and Three Days in the Country, and has also appeared locally with Pittsburgh CLO, City Theatre, Quantum, and barebones productions.

Sam Tsoutsouvas has performed leading roles on Broadway and at many of America’s finest regional theatres.  His notable Pittsburgh appearances include Ed Dixon’s L’Hotel and Caryl Churchill’s A Number at Pittsburgh Public Theatre, and Frank Lloyd Wright in Worksong at City Theatre.  His many productions with director Paul include Kinetic Theatre’s Three Days in the Country, Cock, The Dance of Death, & Blue/Orange, and Max in Stoppard’s Rock’n’Roll, and Hirst in Pinter’s No Man’s Land for PICT.

The Liar also features cast members Patrick Halley, Sarah Silk, Charlie Murphy, Julianne Avolio, and John Michyna. Scenic design is by Gianni Downs with properties by Johnmichael Bohach, sound by Angela Baughman, and costumes by Kim Brown. The Liar performs July 13 – 30 in the Henry Heymann Theatre, Oakland.

FACT SHEET – The Liar by David Ives, from Pierre Corneille
Pittsburgh Premiere
Directed by Andrew Paul
The Henry Heymann Theatre in the Stephen Foster Memorial
4301 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Cast: Juliane Avolio, Patrick Halley, John Michnya, Charlie Murphy, Ethan Saks, Sarah Silk, Erika Strasburg, and Sam Tsoutsouvas
Design Team: Gianni Downs (scenic design); Kim Brown (costume design); Cat Wilson (lighting design); Angela Baughman (sound design)
First Week:         Thursday – Friday, July 13, 14 – Previews, 8:00 p.m
            Saturday, July 15 – Opening Night, 8:00 p.m.
            Sunday, July 16 – 2:00 p.m.
Second Week:         Wednesday – Saturday, July 19, 20, 21, 22 -  8:00 p.m.
            Sunday, July 23 – 2:00 p.m.
Third Week:        Monday, July 24 – 8:00 Pay What You Can performance
            Thursday – Saturday, July 27, 28, 29 - 8:00 p.m.
            Sunday, July 30 – 2:00 p.m. Closing
Tickets:        $36 in advance
        $40 at the door
        $20 for persons 25 and younger, at the door with valid I.D.
        $25 artist rate
Tickets available at ShowClix by calling 1.888.718.4253, or online at

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