Wednesday, April 27, 2011

New York, April 2011 - Day Thirteen, "The School for Lies"

“The School for Lies”
Hamish Linklater probably thinks I’m stalking him. On my last trip to New York, he was in the same audience as I was at two different shows – something we both noticed. Earlier on this trip he was in the audience at “TIHGTOCASWAKTTS.” This time, however, no coincidences were required – he’s starring in David Ives’ brilliant, biting, hilarious adaptation of Moliere’s “The Misanthrope.”

Ives has translated the classic into mostly contemporary language – but he’s kept it in verse, which sounds like it could be clumsy – but it rarely is. And since Ives has his characters using words and phrases that wouldn’t sound out of place on any street corner or college dorm – “What’s yours or mine or any man’s friendship worth, if you give it to any douche on Earth?” – it still feels incredibly current and relevant. Which, of course, adds to the bite when Moliere’s timeless satire is aimed not just as mendacity (as the title implies), but politics, society and culture. (“Sycophants who are brown well past their noses,” was another favorite of mine.)

You’d have to really hate verse not to find something to like about “The School for Lies.” Linklater (who you might know from his TV work on "The New Adventures of Old Christine") is deadpan funny, and his supporting cast mostly just as sure-footed. Ives’ script delivers zinger after zinger and one inventive rhyme after another. And if that doesn’t sell you, it’s worth the ticket price just to see William Ivey Long’s costumes. (John Lee Beatty’s set is lovely, too.)

If you love language, don’t miss this one.

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