Sunday, December 16, 2012

One Needn't Be A-Verse to a Good Farce -- Chicago Theater Review: The School for Lies

Theater Review

The School for Lies
by David Ives
adapted from The Misanthrope by Molière
directed by Barbara Gaines
Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Thru January 20, 2013

In the venerated venue that celebrates Shakespeare
Plays a fun new farce that regenerates Molière

With rhyming couplets like this, though better you’d hope
The School of Lies puts a new English twist on The Misanthrope

Still set in 1666 with costumes Baroque
The anachronistic script features many bawdy a joke

Written by David Ives or more truly adapted
With a fine cast the schtick is enjoyably enacted

Ben Carlson is Frank, a tart-tongued critic of life
Who pursues Celimene, played by Ben’s actual wife

Deborah Hay, these actors sure are good one and all
Including Sean Fortunato and Kevin Gudahl

And a finely vexed Greg Vinkler, along with Heidi Kettenring
Who shines without even getting to sing

All in all it makes for a memorable night
Though I can’t quite call it a “must-see” delight

For while I frequently smiled I rarely guffawed
I liked the uniqueness but wasn’t continually awed

I felt the humor could have had a much sharper sting
Had Ives imbued his verses with a mightier swing

Instead of merely mix-matching chronological sense
Why not make the jibes more topically dense

For as Frank demonstrated his desire to condemn
Dissing his foes like a dandified Eminem

Perhaps he could have ridiculed their pretentious devices
By chastising the chicanery that perpetuated the crisis

And in telling Celimene that her communiqués had vexed him
How ‘bout suggesting that next time she just text him

I realize my examples aren’t really that witty
But the farce could’ve been funnier with more Second City

Types of timely and wry observations
Rather than merely explicit titillations

In truth School of Lies is a pretty good show
But not one to bring tears if unable to go

While I felt it tickled more than did fully entrench
At least I’m glad it wasn’t in French

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