The Spring 2017 University of Dallas Mainstage begins with the character of Cliton (junior Noah Kersting) walking into the theater eating a burrito and, upon realizing that the play is about to start, quickly hands his food to an audience member before jumping onto the stage to introduce the story. One of his first acts in character is to reprimand the very same audience member for eating food during the performance.
If you are looking for an idea of what kind of play this is, look no further.
The set establishes a cartoonish world that does not seem to exist in a particular time, but rather in several of them simultaneously. The costumes are as fun and wildly colorful as the dialogue and plot itself.
The main character is a man named Dorante (junior Samuel Pate) who seems to be unable to get out of a situation without weaving an exaggerated tale of excitement and adventure, painting himself as the hero of every story he tells in his grand words and gestures to nearly every character.
His valet, Cliton, is stuck in the opposite mindset, where he finds it impossible to do anything but tell the absolute truth.
Together, they try to find a way for Dorante to end up with the girl of his dreams, Clarice (junior Hope Gniewek), who is engaged to one of Dorante’s oldest friends, Alcippe (senior Ed Houser). Or is the girl he has fallen for actually Clarice’s friend Lucrece (sophomore Sandy Twetten)?
Alcippe’s right-hand man Philiste (freshman Paul Bond), the only one to see consistently through Dorante’s façade, attempts to keep everybody else straight, but to little avail.
Rounding out the cast of those who get caught up in the whirlwind of Dorante’s spinning web are Dorante’s own father, Geronte (junior Tony Spurgin), who is merely trying to find a suitable bride for his son, and a handful of maids, led by Senior Zeina Masri.
The audience is brought along on this fun, light-hearted romp of a story with a 1960s soundtrack, sets and costumes reminiscent of Saturday morning cartoons, and occasionally meta dialogue that leaves them wanting to return for a second viewing.
Interestingly enough, despite the bright outfits and witty dialogue, it is the mute, black-and white-wearing troupe of maids (freshman Madeleine Bishop, senior Meg Boyd, junior Matteo Cina, freshman Bernadette Roden and freshman Maria Rossini) who nearly steal the show with clever and hilarious skits that are performed as they change the set pieces between scenes.
This David Ives adaptation of Pierre Corneille’s “Le Menteur,” as directed by David Denson, is certainly one that comes highly recommended, especially if you are able to grab a front row seat, increasing your chances of being included in the performance.
Of course, I’m sure that, for most people on campus, this positive review is just another in a long line of the good things you have already heard about this play from your friends. If you don’t believe me, at least listen to them and go see it. We can’t all be liars.