Theater Review: FSU/Asolo Conservatory's The Liar

Scott Kuiper and Wyatt McNeil. Photo by Frank Atura.
Scott Kuiper and Wyatt McNeil. Photo by Frank Atura.
Dennis Maley

SARASOTA — The FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training’s 2015/16 season continued on Wednesday night with the uproarious debut of David Ives’ adaptation of Frenchman Pierre Corneille’s classic farce, The Liar.


Ives, whose modern adaptations of classic works are a thing of genius, has been a potent contributor to Asolo’s success in recent years with the Conservatory having enjoyed successful runs of The School for Lies (adapted from Molière's The Misanthrope), while the Rep wowed audiences with its production of his 2010 classic, Venus in Fur.


The Liar, hailed as one of the most hilarious plays of all time, may well be the company’s best Ives production yet. Fresh off a strong performance in The Actor's Nightmare, second-year conservatory student Scott Kuiper is absolutely brilliant as Dorante, a compulsive liar whose quick thinking and verbal verbosity carry him from one misadventure to the next during his arrival in Paris during the mid 17th century.


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Kelly Elizabeth Smith and Scott Kuiper

Photo by Frank Atura


The sheer endurance displayed by Kupier during long monologuesspoken in verse and augmented by considerable physical comedyis wondrous, but Kupier brings considerable charisma and stage presence to the role as well and has marked himself as a young actor to watch.


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Kelly Elizabeth Smith and Jessie Taylor

Photo by Frank Atura


Dorante hits town looking for love and quickly employs a butler named Cliton (Brandon Maldonado), who becomes his comic sidekick. Kupier and Maldonado demonstrate good chemistry and crack timing, as do Kelly Elizabeth Smith and Jessie Taylor, who play two friends, the identity of which are mixed up by Dorante, who haphazardly pursues one while thinking she’s the other, while his father (played well by Michael Fisher) tries to marry him off to anyone who might have him.


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Brandon Maldonado and Jillian Courtney

Photo by Frank Atura


Wyatt McNeal gives a good turn as Dorante’s unwitting childhood neighbor Alcippe, while Jillian Courtney steals several scenes in her dual role as the polar-opposite twin maids Isabelle and Sabine. Director Justin Lucero gives us a tight performance in this most challenging work, aided by perfectly vibrant costumes courtesy of the sensational Becki Leigh and a creatively-constructed gardenesque stage by Chris McVicker.


The FSU/Asolo Conservatory’s production of The Liar is an instant candidate for funniest play of the year. It runs through January 17. Visit the Asolo website for more information.