Monday, April 23, 2012

Shall We Smote?

All the world's a lie and all the men and women merely liars.

Which I suppose included me and my theater-loving companion and definitely refered to Henley Street Theater's production of "The Liar."

Seated in the second row at the Gottwald Playhouse at CenterStage, we had a ringside view for a French farce from the 17th century.

You know the kind: breasts falling out of dresses, elaborate sexual innuendo and non-stop laughter (like the 70-something next to us who lasciviously laughed at every dirty innuendo).

"The story's so piquant!"

The Artistic Director thanked us for coming and did a quick pep talk after noting the rainy day audience.

"You're a small but potent crowd, I feel sure," Ricks said.

And all of us ready for some cosmic fiction.

The play had been both translated and adapted for modern audiences, making for a satisfying combination of rhyming wordplay and modern references.

"What charm is your memory cursed with?"

There was also a breakdown of the fourth wall with characters speaking directly to us.

When the liar of the title gives his first speech, his friend points to him, saying dryly, "The exposition."

As if we hadn't noticed.

"Is it not a man's job to flatter?"

Actually, I think that it is.

The play benefited from a strong cast who almost never tripped over the iambic pentameter that dominated the dialog.

Only when the liar is forced to admit his love for Lucrece does he resort to prose.

"One who loves asks no leave; they just adore."

I laughed out loud the interior rhymes, the double meanings and the brilliant uses of mis-pronunciation for the sake of maintaining a rhyme scheme.

"Did I say the girl was deep? She's an ocean!"

Like the Shakespeare it was no doubt partially inspired by (including a few direct rip-offs), there were twins, unknown siblings, mistaken identities and a tidy ending.

And, being a farce, groan-worthy lines.

"You may be a bi-valve, but you're my valve."

Does it get any more romantic than that?

Not on a pouring down rainy day, so after the pleasure of two hours of verse and love (and even a talkback with the actors), we were starving.

And, like last Sunday late afternoon, we ended up at Burger Bach after finding Cellar Door closed.

Unlike last Sunday at BB, we eschewed bivalves at the four-screen bar for (basic and lamb) burgers at a corner booth with a view of a silvery sky.

Okay, with a few oysters to start.

My favorite thing about their wine list is the South African choices so it was a bit of a buzz kill to hear that they were out of the Warwick Pinotage.

We left Stellenbosch behind and moved to the Western Cape, sharing the Boekenhoutskloof Wolf Trap 2011, an earthy Syrah, Mourvedre, Viognier blend perfect for a damp, cool April evening.

When the bottle and burgers were gone we knew the absence of desserts would send us down the street to Secco.

Already enjoying the rainy evening there was a Blood Brother and his crew up front and over at the bar, the teacher out late on a school night.

She clarified why that sometimes happens despite her usual habit of early bedtimes.

"It's always because of a dude, Karen" she explained to me like she was talking to an idiot.

There we also found olive oil and rosemary gelato with sea salt (exquisite taste and texture) and hot, freshly fried zeppoles to accompany our digestifs.

Our last stop was Commercial Taphouse for Labragenda, a four piece doing progressive jazz to far too few people.

I recognized three of the four: the band's namesake Larry Branch, the guitar player from the RVA Big Band and the bassist from Marionette.

They did some originals, a terrific piece called "Fiction" by Glows in the Dark's Scott Burton and closed the first set with an extended "Tailgating."

For their second set, they played some Journey,  Milli Vanilli and a little Nickelback.


Haven't you heard? "Liars aren't born, they're fabricated."


  1. Thanks so much for coming Karen!

  2. Given so many terrific performances and the hilarious wordplay, we'd have been idiots not to spend a rainy day with such a fine farce!