"The School for Lies" (Chicago Shakespeare Theater): Hilarious Love Octagon

"The School for Lies" (Chicago Shakespeare Theater):  Hilarious Love Octagon

Chicago Shakespeare Theater presents the Midwest premiere of THE SCHOOL FOR LIES.  Philinte loves Eliante.  Eliante loves Frank.  Frank loves Celimene but he’s not the only one.  Clitander, Oronte, and Acaste have been wooing the young widow, Celimene too.   So when it’s time for Celimene to pick who will remain true, she has to determine who is being false.  Throw in some canapés, a blackmailer, and a cross-dresser, this rom-com is hilarious from every angle.  THE SCHOOL FOR LIES is a love octagon.

Playwright David Ives masterfully penned a witty romp.  Ives adapted “The Misanthrope” by Moliere.  The clever dialogue is old-world sonnet with unexpected contemporary zings.  It’s raunchy elegance!  The sexual innuendos, malicious barbs and flying canapés are hurled all over the stage.  Hilarious!  Director Barbara Gaines skillfully paces the mirth.  Gaines has her talented ensemble delivering the heavy-duty wordplay with upbeat absurdity and classy buffoonery.  The romantic leads onstage (and married in real life), haughty Deborah Hay (Celimene) and surly Ben Carlson (Frank) attack in this spectacular elitist smack down.  The entire cast avoids telling the truth with some dazzling mouth-work.  An aggressive Heidi Kettenring (Eliante) takes-it-to-the-mat.  Kettenring has a bawdy tussle with Carlson.   It’s just one of many saucy encounters between cast-mates that results in a chuckle-fest.  This show has got its frolic on and the audience enjoys every playful moment.            

Upon arrival, a huge, gorgeous chandelier illuminates the theatre.  Scenic Designer Daniel Ostling provides a breathtaking stunner as his majestic setting’s centerpiece.  Costume Designer Susan E. Mickey fills the room with vibrant finery.  The wardrobe is both exquisite and gaudy.  Mickey matches the tone of the show with swatches of comical and loveliness.

THE SCHOOL FOR LIES may be the most stylish slapstick onstage ever.  I’m not lying when I say anybody would enjoy this show.   The plot is light-hearted.  The dialogue is smart.  The cast is superb.  It all just works perfectly together like crying and laughing at the same time.

A Francophile and Moliere fan, Jen describes it with ‘visually & linguistically colorful.’

Running Time:  Two hours and thirty minutes includes an intermission

At Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand

Adapted from “The Misanthrope” by Moliere

Written by David Ives

Directed by Barbara Gaines

Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays at 7:30pm

Wednesdays at 1pm and 7:30pm 

Saturdays at 3pm and 8pm

Sundays at 2pm

Thru January 20th 

Buy Tickets at www.chicagoshakes.com

Production photograph courtesy of Liz Lauren.

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