The School for Lies | Shakespeare Theater Skyline Room on Navy Pier | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader

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When: Wednesdays-Sundays. Continues through Jan. 20 2013

"Chicago sounds rough to the maker of verse," wrote Oliver Wendell Holmes. "One comfort we have—Cincinnati sounds worse." David Ives seems to have taken Holmes's little couplet as a personal challenge. He goes out of his way to rhyme not just "Cincinnati" (with "baddie"), but also such ungainly nouns as "bacillus" ("Phyllis") and "megillah" ("Tuscan villa"). In fact, his loose, intentionally anachronistic adaptation of Moliere's The Misanthrope comes to resemble a linguistic jungle gym, on which he swings and climbs and plays with exuberant ferocity. And he doesn't stop at contriving rhymes. Ives does precisely the same thing with plot and character. Indeed, contrivance becomes a formal mechanism—a way of ridiculing all that's unnatural in a social order as silly/vicious/twisted as that of 17th-century France. Or our own. Ives's excess is remarkably well suited to the peculiar talents of director Barbara Gaines, who—despite such small embarrassments as Kevin Gudahl's lisping courtier—comes across with a staging worthy of her insanely talented leads, Deborah Hay, Ben Carlson, Sean Fortunato, and Heidi Kettenring. —Tony Adler

Price: $48-$78



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