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Preview: The Liar

28 Apr 24

Director Mark Ireson previews his production of The Liar

What inspired you to direct this play?

Happenstance – I found the script about 10 years ago browsing one lunchtime in the old Samuel French bookshop, which was always a great place to run across plays and writers you had never heard of before. After skim reading the first couple of pages I was hooked. David Ives has both translated and adapted Pierre Corneille’s 1643 romantic comedy for a contemporary audience.


The traditional comic characters and tropes remain: the master who cannot tell the truth; the servant who cannot tell a lie; mistaken identities and misunderstandings; a swashbuckling duel; and lovers’ notes and twins. But some of the 17th century references and padding are removed, giving a honed and polished comic gem for today’s audiences.


Like the original it’s in verse. It’s full of outrageous rhymes, astonishing puns and tongue twisting wordplay. I was enchanted and laughed myself stupid. I knew that evening that I wanted to direct it. However, while it has been widely performed in the United States in professional and student productions, the rights have never been available in the UK before. It’s been a long wait, but I’m delighted to be able to present the UK’s premiere production.


Actors rehearsing for The Liar

Can you tell us about some of the characters we'll meet?

Dorante is a charming young man, newly arrived in Paris, who has just one flaw – he cannot tell the truth. In quick succession he meets Cliton, a manservant who cannot tell a lie, and falls in love with Clarice, a charming young woman whom he unfortunately mistakes for her friend Lucrece.


What our hero does not know is that Clarice is secretly engaged to his best friend Alcippe. Nor is he aware that his father Geronte is trying to get him married to Clarice, whom he thinks is Lucrece (who actually is in love with him). Got all that?


Throw in the quietly adoring Philiste and the ladies’ maids Isabelle and Sabine and you have a recipe for an exquisite, tightly plotted farce. Don’t worry, it’ll all be clear when you see it!


Actors rehearsing The Liar

How has the rehearsal process been?

An absolute joy. The cast are almost all new or very recent recruits to SLT, and have worked so hard together at getting the utmost comedy from the page onto the stage. If you’ve been around the building, you’ll have heard a great deal of laughter coming from the rehearsal room!


Actors rehearsing The Liar

What do you hope the audience will take away from the production?

A grin from ear to ear.


Can you sum up the play in three words?

Baldachin, flotilla, pomegranates.Actors rehearsing The Liar

The Liar runs 14-18 May at South London Theatre

Buy your tickets here