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The School for Lies: Teen Critics

Every season a group of High School students participate in STC’s Teen Critic program. These students attend the productions, participate in workshops and craft critical reviews reflecting their unique perspectives on the performances.

Click here to find out more about the Teen Critic program and information on applying to the 2017-2018 season.


Photo of Victoria Frings and Gregory Wooddell by Scott Suchman.

Camilla Johnson, 9th grade, Georgetown Visitation School

Being in show business, Shakespeare Theatre Company must have a sense of the dramatic, so, of course, they know how to make a good exit. This season ended with the bombshell of a play: The School for Lies. The story takes place in a society where no one is allowed to be critical for fear of being sued for slander. In a world devoid of criticism, or even honesty, terrible bards, lusty ladies and self-proclaimed idiots run amok. When Frank, a truthful and rather angry man, arrives on the scene to visit a friend, well, pure comedy ensues. The script itself is a loose adaptation of a 17th century French play Le Misanthrope, rewritten and translated completely into rhyming couplets by David Ives, with little gems like: “We’ll lick love’s slippery mango, while locked in our own private tango” appearing every couple lines and a sex joke thrown in twice as often.

Zach Garrigus, 10th grade, Atholton High School

Despite its admittedly odd concept and heavy diversions from Moliére’s original play which revolves around the same general idea and has some of the same character names, Shakespeare Theatre Company’s production of The School for Lies is undeniably hilarious. The relatively small cast delivers good performances and exhibit tightly knit chemistry. This was particularly notable in the case of Cody Nickell and Gregory Wooddell, who play Philinte and Frank respectively. The two make a traditional Abbott and Costello style pair in some scenes, with the straight man Frank giving dating advice to the completely clueless clown Philinte, inciting roars of laughter.

Renée Deminne, 10th grade, St. Charles High School

The play was a hysterical representation of the French courtroom etiquette of Louis XIV.  By the opening monologue referencing the original play and fools running society during the Sun King’s time, ending with “Thank goodness we have none of that,” I was hooked.  Satire, irony and even slapstick come together to make for a ridiculously funny performance.  The main Parisian, appropriately named Frank, played by Gregory Wooddell, insults the French aristocratic class through his blunt honesty and ironically gets himself and the rest of the eccentric ensemble caught up in a web of lies.  The acting was phenomenal across the board as every actor brought out their characters colorful, especially Wooddell as “le misanthrope” himself and Victoria Frings as the gossiping widow Celimene.

Photo of Cameron Folmar, Liam Craig and Tom Story by Scott Suchman.

Madeline Breyfogle, 11th grade, Battlefield High School 

One of the most striking features of the production was the set design by Alexander Dodge, set in a bright living room belonging to the sharp-tongued and sophisticated socialite Celimene (played smoothly by Victoria Frings). The actors, dressed in elaborate and colorful apparel designed by Murell Horton, are juxtaposed against this modern scene as they congregate to hear the gossip Celimene supplies (gossip so harsh that she is being sued for it). However, the alien and polished living room becomes homey and warm with the characters’ emotionally charged interactions and problems.

Mia Randers-Pehrson, 9th grade, Homeschool

The set (designed by Alexander Dodge) is captivating. The modern atmosphere includes nods to artists such as Jeff Koons, Claes Oldenburg and Salvador Dalí. Color-changing lights (designed by Mark McCullough) encircle the room. Embedded in the floor and ceiling, the fade lighting sets the mood nicely. Costumes (designed by Murell Horton) work beautifully with the set—which is almost surprising considering the modernity of the set compared with the 17th-century garb. Nevertheless, they all meld to form a beautiful collection of designs.

Malaika Bhayana, 10th grade, Bethesda Chevy Chase High School, MD

I walked out of The School For Lies with tears in my eyes from laughing so hard. From the opening couplet to the closing one, this play was a knee-slapper. Although the plot structure and characters are taken from Le Misanthrope, David Ives turns it into a wonderful spectacle filled with over-the top characters and hysterical twists and turns.

Keira DiGaetano, 10th grade, Richard Montgomery High School

I could attempt to find some sort of issue with School for Lies, but the truth is no shortcoming of the play impacted my overall impression of it. It’s a perfect play for summer, perfect for any time you need a break, really. The School for Lies is utterly delightful—a much needed break from the world around us.

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