Although it is the 17th century in David Ives’s clever adaptation of Pierre Corneille’s “Le Menteur,” the production by the Classic Stage Company (CSC) couldn’t be timelier. Our present world, in which a Trump spokesperson talks of “alternative facts” to misrepresent reality and sends sales of George Orwell’s “1984” soaring, lying is a subject very much on the table. “The Liar” is a delightful farce sparked by one man who cannot tell the truth and another who cannot lie.
The truth-teller is Cliton, given a wonderfully funny performance by Carson Elrod, who is blessed with a great gift for comedy. He sets the tone at the outset by introducing the play. The compulsive liar, Dorante, to whom Cliton is a servant, is portrayed by a swaggering Christian Conn, most amusing in his pursuit of a damsel and for the misinformation he spins with reckless abandon.
True to the requirements of farce, an assortment of characters, Cliton’s penchant for telling the truth and the plot’s delightful complications make for lively entertainment. Ives meshes all of this into iambic pentameter, a rhythm that threatens to become soporific but is rescued by the sheer wit of the adaptation.
Michael Kahn has directed with briskness and an eye for what to stress to obtain maximum laughter. The character collage is felicitously portrayed by excellent actors, who include Aubrey Deeker, Kelly Hutchinson, Adam LeFevre, Ismenia Mendes Amelia Pedlow and Tony Roach. Murell Horton’s costume design gives a visual boost to the horseplay.
The overall result is a breezy romp that is consistently enjoyable, and becomes another feather in the cap of Ives, who also did such a good job writing the totally different “Venus in Fur.” At the Classic Stage Company, 136 East 13th Street. Phone: 212-352-3101.