“The Liar”: A farcical tale of lying, love and laughter

As the few flecks of snow melt away and the flowers prepare to bloom, Jim Eikrem’s cast and crew at Clackamas Community College’s theater department are channeling their inner Shakespeare, fastening their corsets and adjusting their wigs for their annual winter play.

“The Liar,” written by Pierre Cornelius and adapted for the Shakespeare Company by David Ives, tells the farcical tale of a compulsive liar with a yearning heart and a silver tongue. The play first took to the stage in 1644. This is the theater department’s second performance of the three scheduled plays for the school.

Set in France circa 1643, the tale begins with the arrival of Dorante, the aforementioned bachelor who can’t seem to speak the truth to save his life. While stepping foot in the city of Paris he swiftly encounters a handful of people, the first being Cliton, who is a lone servant as unwillingly dedicated to telling the truth as Dorante is to abolishing it.

The pair encounter two upper-class women, Clarice and Lucrece, who catch the eyes of Dorante. He decides to spin faux war stories and slaps a fictional military title on himself in order to win over the pair, to which he avails. He falls for Lucrece, though due to his own dimwittedness he mistakes her for Clarice, who is dating his longtime friend Alcippe.

Confusion ensues and destroys as this group attempts to unravel the truth.

CCC student James Van Eaton plays the role of Dorante, and while he doesn’t partake in frequent fibbing like his stage ego, he finds Dorante’s approach to life endearing.

“I’m the farthest thing from a liar,” Van Eaton said. “I’ve always appreciated blunt truth and total candor, but I can certainly appreciate Dorante’s flair for the dramatic, his exhilarated storytelling and his bright-eyed glee in coming up with new ideas.”

Van Eaton has dwelled in the realm of theater and fine arts for a long time, and it was 2017’s staging of “A Streetcar Named Desire” at CCC that convinced him to turn it into a career.

Eaton endured a trial and error process with the play’s iambic pentameter.

“For me, during the early stages of memorization, the rhyme and meter seemed like a godsend. Not just in connecting my own lines, but in queuing off others,” Van Eaton said. “But as I progressed it became something to lean on, reach for and predict to the overall detriment of an organic character portrayal.”

Student Talulabel Gilpin makes her acting debut as Lucrece, Dorante’s true love. She built up the courage to audition after making her way through acting classes at the college.

“I really like the character because she’s a romantic,” Gilpin said. “She wants everything to be beautiful and be just right and be a story.”

Gilpin has taken to her cast over the course of rehearsals and attributes the stellar acting to Eikrem’s lead.

“[The play] started out kind of two dimensional and over time as Jim directed us and we figured out the depth of our characters, even though it’s a farce there’s still depth there,” Gilpin said. “The dynamic between all the characters flows much better now. We all get along really well.”

Dylan Croonquist has devoted much of his time to the stage, taking part in five plays during his high school tenure. This play marks the first of his college career, and while different from high school, Croonquist was able to flourish with his cast and crew.

“I wanted to give this school’s program a shot and so far this has been a welcoming experience,” Croonquist said. “Jim has been a great director who is particular with what he envisions for his plays, and it’s very helpful for his actors.”

The production of the play is a sight to behold. Every detail from the set to the costuming paints the picture of an old fashioned France. A chandelier hangs from the highest visible point on stage, and it revolves slowly as the story unravels.

The numerous locales of the play are portrayed perfectly, and the ever-changing lighting paints many pictures in a single scene. The pacing is a sight to behold, especially with iambic pentameter in the mix.

Overall, “The Liar” is a wonderful production with a solid cast leading the way.

The play continues from March 7 to March 10, for more information visit the school website.

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Jared Preble