Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Also see Susan's review of Sophisticated Ladies
The title character is Dorante (Christian Conn), a young lawyer just arrived in Paris from his provincial home. Whatever he lacks in money or social position, he compensates for by demonstrating his prodigious skill in making up richly detailed lies about himself. As he states epigrammatically: "The unimagined life is not worth living." (Ives sprinkles his rhyming couplets with tongue-in-cheek references to the works of Shakespeare, among others, and frequent zany bits of wordplay: "The Louvre has mouvred.")
In the course of a few eventful days, Dorante falls in love at first sight with a blonde beauty (Erin Partin), but confusion over her identity leads him into an escalating series of scrapes. He keeps his father (David Sabin) from arranging a marriage for him by inventing a wife back home; he staggers through a choreographed duel with a friend (Tony Roach) over a misunderstood question of honor; and along the way, Dorante's servant Cliton (Adam Green) stumbles into his own epic saga of mistaken identity with identical twin maids (Colleen Delany), one racy and one prim. (It's amazing what a difference a simple lace collar can make!)
Dodge picks up the motif of trompe l'oeilpurposeful illusionwith a scenic design made to look a lot like cardboard. As the action progresses, flower-bedecked balconies emerge from the side walls, square trees appear in the background, and a large topiary in the shape of a poodle takes center stage. Murell Horton's sumptuous costumes, Jeff Croiter's color-washed lighting design, and Adam Wernick's music add life to the already robust proceedings.
Shakespeare Theatre Company