‘The School for Lies’ a Slapstick Stab at Society at Constellation’s Source Theatre

The School for Lies Image courtesy: Constellation Theatre Company

Flamboyant fashion, false flattery, and extravagant farce make up The School for Lies, the final play in Constellation Theatre‘s 16th season, and a raucous comedy fashioned from Moliere’s Misanthrope.

Constellation has taken this guilty pleasure of extreme social hypocrisy, misunderstood intention, and mistaken identity and made it a must-not-miss night of theatre comedy.  In fact, it’s among the best we’ve seen at Constellation!

The School for Lies Image courtesy: Constellation Theatre Company

The School for Lies, written by David Ives and directed by Constellation’s Founding Artistic Director, Allison Arkell Stockman, explores gossip and glamor in the 17th century from the upper echelons of the French bourgeoisie — but really it’s a mix and translation of Moliere’s french work taking a slapstick stab at modern society (and politics) — with au courant references and witty wordplay indeed.

In the heart of Paris, the beautiful, young newish widow Célimène hosts guests at a posh salon, but the entertainment is mean-spirited, usually satiric impressions of society’s dilettantes. She surrounds herself with many pompous suitors… but everything changes when Frank, a new man on the scene, arrives threatening to call out hypocrisy — or just be rude.

The School for Lies Image courtesy: Constellation Theatre Company

What ensues is a parlor game of sharp humor and giddy mismatched love affairs. Frank (Drew Kopas) wreaks havoc on the entire house of cards, throwing all of her suitors into a tailspin; Eliante (Ria Simpkins) graduates from doe to dominatrix with surprising speed, captivating the audience with her rapid transformation and unlikely passion for Frank; and the sharp-tongued and razor-witted Célimène (Natalie Cutcher) who has a penchant for destroying suitors and faux amis alike, manages to draw everyone back for more as she tries to find a solution to a rather complex and troublesome problem.

And if the plot and promise of laugh-out-loud levity aren’t tempting enough, go for the incredible set design, perfectly executed by Sarah Reed of SK Reed Designs… you’ll feel like you’re in the middle of the action at this elegant 17th century home. And if you’re unlucky, you might just get smacked with a canapé!

The School For Lies is playing at Source, located at 1835 14th St. NW, Washington, DC 20009, from from April 28 – May 28, 2023. Tickets are $20 – 55

Run time: 100 minutes, no intermission.