ARTICLE: Liar, Liar, Shakespearean pants on fire


‘The Liar’ mashes Renaissance-style wit and crowd interactions for a unique stage experience.

To lie or not to lie.

That is the question asking in “The Light,” the Department of Music, Theater and Dance’s
current play showing in Varner Studio Hall. It will be shown Nov. 13 through Nov. 23.

Directed by Anthony Guest, the play is adapted from the comedy by Pierre Corneille. It follows the story of the liar Dorante, played by Gabriel Jamison, and his attempts at winning over the young maiden Clarice, played by Jillian Hoffman.

Brandson Santana, who plays Geronte in the play, talked about his favorite part of being in the cast.

“Getting to learn from the other actors and being after to share my own talent was amazing,” he said.

Andrew Barikmo, who plays Philiste, echoed Santana’s satisfaction.

“This is my first show at Oakland, and being cast with so many talented actors was a great experience,” he said. “Because the cast is so small, we grew really close together and become a second family.”

Santana explained how the cast would often change lines during rehearsal.

“Because Gabriel and I aren’t the same skin color, he would often said ‘my black dad’ instead of ‘dad.’ It got a lot of laughs out of everyone,” he said with a smile.

Santana explained that his influences for acting mainly came from “growing up and watching actors on the screen.”

“There were a lot of African American actors that I identified with, and I admired how much work and effort they put in,” Santana said. “I don’t want to be cheesy, but [I’m influenced mostly by] Denzel Washington and Norm Lewis.”

Barikmo said that he was inspired when he first saw “The Wizard of Oz,” with which he became “obsessed.”

Guest spoke about rehearsals for the play.

“The actors have been rehearsing for about six weeks as preparations for the design elements were being created,” he said.

“We practice each cue and then have three to four dress rehearsals before an audience is invited.”

Guest also spoke in depth about the lighting effects in the play.

“The lighting designer is often the last designer to define his craft, because the costumes and scenic elements must fall into place first,” he said. “He will watch a few run-throughs and develop a cue list and a light plot.”

“We didn’t start building the set until the previous show, ‘The Life,’ was over, which was around Oct. 20,” said Kerro Knox III, an associate professor of theater who oversaw much of the set’s construction.

Guest estimated that hundreds of hours went into rehearsals for every aspect of the production.

Show times for ‘The Liar’ can be found at

Top 10 reasons to see ‘The Liar’

1: The play is spoken completely in pentameter.

For those who don’t know what pentameter is, it’s a line of verse consisting of five metrical feet. Shakespeare often wrote in pentameter, because it is the most natural rhythm of language to speak. Performing in verse is challenging due to the many rhymes.

2: “The Liar” mixes renaissance vernacular with a modern flair.

If you think the pentameter will throw you off, never fear. The dialogue is easy to understand. The playwright David Ives masterfully weaves together the use of verse, pentameter and modern speech.

3: The play constantly breaks down the fourth wall.

Normally, plays are set within their own dimensions. The characters don’t know that they’re in a play or that there are people watching. However, the characters of “The Liar” seem to be fully aware of their limits and play around with those barriers. Which leads to our fourth reason …

4: The cast interacts with the audience.

Don’t worry! You don’t need to know any lines or have to get out of your chair, but don’t be surprised if the cast runs up into the stands or shines the spotlight on you. This interactivity gives this play a unique feel like no other.

5: In between scenes, a troubadour entertains you with live music.

A troubadour is a musician and performer during the Middle Ages. In “The Liar,” the troubadour plays modern songs on Renaissance-period instruments, such as the lute. See if you can recognize any of the songs.

6: The set and costumes are high quality.

Props (no pun intended) to the staff who designed the costumes and built the set. Although the set itself is relatively small, it is of high quality and will definitely leave you feeling like you’re in 1643 Paris.     

7: The actors are extremely talented.

The cast is small, consisting of only 11 actors. However, their talent is large. Each actor gives their all during the performance, leaving the audience laughing and applauding throughout the show.     

8: “The Liar” is hilarious!

We’re not simply talking about Dorante and his fantastical stories and antics. The entire play is filled with top-notch humor that will make even the grumpiest play-goers laugh.

9: The plot is engaging.

You won’t fall asleep during the show, that’s for sure. The story smoothly builds up to a grand finale, and just when you think the show is over, they throw one more surprise twist at you! You’ll always be on your toes.

10: “The Liar” is the perfect way to spend an evening with your friends and family.

Who doesn’t love a good laugh? You’ll have a great time watching the       performance. Just remember, that this is a PG-13 show that does include mild language and sexual innuendos. It’s most likely not suitable for younger audiences.

Written by Dani Cojocari. Originally published in The Oakland Post on November 19, 2014

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