Corneille’s comedies are little known, at least less than his tragedies. Yet it was there that he began his career as a playwright with Melite, The Royal Square, The liar (1644), the subject of which is borrowed from the Spanish writer Alarcon, and The Liar Sequel (1645).
The young, dashing and dashing Dorante, barely finished his studies, has only one idea, to leave his province to succumb deliciously to the attractions of Parisian life.
Boastful, dandy before his time, boastful and proud of his virtuosity as an accomplished liar, the hero of The Liar is not of the caliber of Balzac heroes, Lucien de Rubempré or Rastignac, naive poet and ambitious upstart. Dorante is just a futile libertine who perhaps takes more pleasure in playing the tightrope walker on the thread of his lies than in seduction, which would only be a playground. imaginary heroic exploits to show off. The more he gets bogged down in implausible lies to escape the precedents, the more the exercise is acrobatic and the more he rejoices in his cunning.
Alexandre Bierry embodies this character with great talent. He dominates the small stage of Le Poche with his tall stature and plays on this effect of disproportion to accentuate his ascendancy over his entourage without ever losing his best smile.
Benjamin Boyer interprets Clito, his valet, through whom we guess in germ Sganarelle or Figaro. Good-natured valet, curvaceous, who wears himself out keeping up with his master’s frenetic pace. Even back from a scene, he affirms his presence, expressing with a look, a mimicry or a gesture his incredulity, his indignation, his admiration, his astonishment. Sometimes he lets himself be caught in the traps of mystifications so well put together, at the limit of morality, sometimes he pulls Dorante by the sleeve to try to slow down this galloping imagination which frightens him.
If the Dom Juan de Molière was not yet born, that of Tirso de Molina (1630) was already famous in 1644. Corneille puts Dorante in the same situation as the abuser of Seville when, to get out of a temporary impasse, he promises the love simultaneously to two coquettes, going from one to the other to swear his love and his good faith. Except that at Tirso de Molina Thisbé and Aminte are peasant women. Corneille parodies himself with the pseudo-tragic declamations of Géronte, Serge Noël, touching in this role of affectionate father, overwhelmed, overwhelmed by the immorality of his son which echoes the Cid.
The staging by Marion Bierry is in tune with the fantasy of this baroque comedy which she adapted by adding scenes from La Suite du menteur, transposing everything to the end of the Revolution and inserting with the greatest natural music of Offenbach and Strauss, airs of Trenet and Barbara. Two screens planted on each side of the stage are enough for the game of masks, for the multiple entrances and exits of the characters who avoid or seek each other. The actors are all excellent. Brice Hillairet portrays a vexed lover who is always one bar behind, prey to feverish nervousness; his character is no match for the twirling Dorante. The two coquettes (Anne-Sophie Nallino and Mathilde Riey), who are not fools, give a lot of trouble to this unscrupulous young seducer.
The show distills a facetious lightness that all together evokes the commedia dell’arte, an operetta or a pure marivaudage before its time. A lively, joyful and clever musical spectacle.
The liar by Pierre Corneille. Adapted and directed by Marion Bierry. With Alexandre Bierry, Benjamin Boyer (alternating with Thierry Lavat), Brice Hillairet, Anne-Sophie Nallino, Serge Noël, Mathilde Riey. Decor, Nicolas Sire. Costumes, Virginie Houdinière. Lights, Laurent Castaingt. In Paris, at the Poche-Montparnasse at 9 p.m. Duration: 1h40.
© Pascal Gely