Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast

The Liar
Asolo Conservatory
Review by William S. Oser | Season Schedule

Also see Bill's review of Butler

Scott Kuiper, Michael Fisher,
and Brandon Maldonado

Photo by Frank Atura
Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training is presenting David Ives' "translaptation" of Pierre Corneille's Le Menteur, now titled The Liar. Ives has carried over the iambic pentameter rhyme scheme, modernized the language, and sprinkled liberally with anachronisms. Much of the modernization is quite funny, but in the end it is Corneille's themes regarding the evils of lying that are most effective.

The piece presents a huge acting challenge, balancing the classical and modern elements, blending them to make a unified whole. It is a fine choice for actors in training. Eight members of the Conservatory class of 2017 rise to the challenge, with several outstanding performances. Scott Kuiper in the central role of Dorante and Brandon Maldonado as his servant Cliton seem to have the best physical grasp of classic theatrical deportment, mixing in just enough modernism to balance things out. Michael Fisher as Geronte, Dorante's father, is also fine in this regard. Wyatt McNeil as Alcippe has an imaginary duel with Durante which they turned into a Star Wars laser duel, hilarious. Kelly Elizabeth Smith as Clarice, Jessie Taylor as Lucrece, and Jillian Courtney as twin servants all seem a bit shrill, but still effective. Brett Mack plays Philiste, Alcippe's friend, a rather thankless role.

Director Justin Lucero has found balances between the classical and the modern which work well. This is a play in which the director's point of view is going to be really telling, and Mr. Lucero's seems excellent. Becki Leigh designed the costumes, each with elements of classical but also at least one element distinctly of the here and now. Nobody is credited with scenic design, but it is classical in its complete symmetry, decorated with obviously fake gerbera daisy like flowers. Rew Tippin is the sound designer. Michelle Hart does her usual extraordinary work as resident hair/wig and make-up designer. She always makes a major contribution to the effectiveness of each and every Asolo production, and I have put in a request to meet her and learn how she does what she does. At the actor's talkback after the performance I attended, one audience member commented on how well he was able to understand all the dialogue being spoken. Much credit for this goes to Patricia Delorey, voice and speech coach, another Asolo stalwart. Eliza Ladd is credited for movement which is a huge element in this piece.

I am always grateful for the opportunity to experience plays from many eras and styles. I don't know when I will get to see a play by Pierre Corneille again.

Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training presents The Liar through January 17, 2016, at the Cook Theater in the FSU Center. 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. Box Office (941) 351-8000. For more information visit

Cast (in order of appearance):
Cliton: Brandon Maldonado
Dorante: Scott Kuiper
Clarice: Kelly Elizabeth Smith
Lucrece: Jessie Taylor
Isabelle: Jillian Courtney
Alcippe: Wyatt McNeil
Philiste: Brett Mack
Geronte: Michael Fisher
Sabine: Jillian Courtney