The University of Rhode Island Theatre’s latest production of “The School For Lies” is a hilarious reworking of Molière’s “The Misanthrope.” The dialogue consists entirely of rhyming couplets which is reminiscent of Molière’s past works, but David Ives’s “The School For Lies” is a modern retelling of the old tale, making it accessible to a wider audience.
The play begins with an entertaining monologue by Philinte (Kyle Couture), which sets the tone for the events to come. Immediately afterward, we are introduced to Frank (Raymond Fournier) who is, as his name suggests frank. He is witty and sharp-tongued, complementing the jovial tone of the play. When he interacts with other with other people, Frank tends to use brutal honesty rather than false pleasantries. His abrasive attitude is met with displeasure by the other characters.
The only other character that shares the same sense of wit and slanderous humor as Frank is Celimene (Catia Ramos). Celimene is a widow with many suitors, but she has no interest in them and is only keeping up with them as they will help her get rid of her lawsuit.
Frank spreads the rumor that Philinte is a cross-dresser which embarrasses him and makes it harder for him to confess his love to Celimene’s cousin, Eliante (Katharine Templeton). In order to get revenge on Frank, Philinte concocts a series of lies that lead to Frank and Celimene falling in love. Hilarity ensues as Philinte’s plan backfires and Eliante also falls in love with Frank.
In this comical play, Raymond Fournier and Catia Ramos give terrific performances in their roles as Frank and Celimene. Their delivery of the dialogue highlights the scintillating tone of “The School For Lies.” They successfully present the witty charm of their characters.
Kyle Couture’s hilarious presentation of Philinte is another great aspect of the play, especially when his character dons a dress. This provides visual humor and easily becomes one of the most memorable parts of the play.
The set, while being minimalistic, fits in quite well with the story and does not drive away attention from the action of the play. The intricately made costumes perfectly portray each character’s essence and echo the 1660’s Parisian vibe.
However, the play did feature a limitation: the constant flinging of the tray carrying the hors d’oeuvres gave way to weary laughter from the audience after it’s second occurrence.
Despite this overused visual gag, “The School For Lies” is a brilliant and clever adaptation of Molière’s “The Misanthrope” as the cast are exemplary in their roles and they create an entertaining evening for their audience.
The University of Rhode Island theater’s upcoming production of “The Great Gatsby” starts April 20.