Delicious Lies runs at the Chemainus Theatre Festival from April 26 to May 18.

Delicious Lies runs at the Chemainus Theatre Festival from April 26 to May 18.

Delicious Lies set to premiere at Chemainus Theatre Festival April 26

Adaptation of 17th century play combines "sophisticated clowning" with the art of storytelling.

The Chemainus Theatre Festival aims to offer entertainment and new theatrical experiences with the upcoming production of Delicious Lies.

As a special adaptation of 1671 comedy Les Fourberies de Scapin (“Scapin’s Deceits”) by French playwright Molière, the show brings a fresh approach to physical farce to the Chemainus Theatre Festival.

From April 26 to May 18, audiences can discover just how far the truth can be twisted before fraying out of control. The unique story fuses elements of spaghetti western, circus and the predecessor of vaudeville and Seinfeld, seamlessly woven into an uproarious fable of scheming lovers, mistaken identities and clownish greedy servants.

Delicious Lies is a unique play that combines sophisticated clowning with good storytelling. It is derived from the work of Molière, considered to be a master of comedy in Western literature, and retains the writer/actor/director’s personal enjoyment for the commedia dell’arte — an improvisational style of performance that emphasized physical interaction between people, situations and point of view.

The Chemainus Theatre Festival’s artistic director, Mark DuMez, believes that the playful diversity in style and light-hearted plot will appeal to a range of audiences.

Molière’s original play is often adapted, most notably as Scapino! by Frank Dunlop and Jim Dale, and Scapin, by Bill Irwin and Mark O’Donnell. Like most, The Chemainus Theatre Festival’s presentation translates and modernizes the French-language story for today’s audience, while retaining the play’s original structure and plot.

Delicious Lies tells the story of Scapin, an arrogant and pompous servant to the household of Geronte. He believes in only one version of truth — his own — and uses all nature of trickery to achieve his self-ambitions. In his latest caper, Scapin has promised to help his young charge Léandre and neighbour boy Octave save their new relationships.

The mixed story lines and vaudevillian style of Delicious Lies require flawless comedic wit and timing.

“We’ve got a great bunch of seasoned pros ready to dive into the text and physicality required for the show,” says DuMez. “We’ve been talking with the scenic designer about what tricks we might incorporate to support the lively text.”

The cast includes: the two old men — Geronte (Timothy Brummond) and Argante (Michelle Lieffertz) — who have been away on business and arrive home with a surprise for their respective sons — Leander (Darren Burkett) and Octave (Ben Elliott) — who have fallen in love with gypsy girl Zerbinette (Samantha Currie) and the penniless foreigner Hyacinth (Ella Simon), and the wily servants Scapin (Thomas Jones) or Sylvestre (Brian Linds) who are left holding the bag as things twist and turn between the two families.

The role of Scapin is particularly pivotal to the show. A classic theatrical persona in commedia dell’arte, everything from his name (related to the English word “escape”) to his self-interested pursuits guide the overarching theme of the play. The character is a proud schemer, a scoundrel, and a jack-of-all-trades, known to cause confusion of anything he undertakes. He adapts quickly to changing scenarios, often inciting disorder for his own self-preservation. True to this style, Molière’s Scapin is the tie that binds each character to his story of mischief and revenge.

Tickets are now available for evening performances (Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.) and matinee shows (Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m.) through The Chemainus Theatre Festival box office at 1-800-565-7738 and online through www.chemainustheatre.ca.

Theatre-goers who seek a deeper understanding of the show can attend on “Talk-back Wednesday,” when a lively Q&A session with the actors and artistic team is held to provide insight about the script and production. There is no extra charge to attend either the Wednesday matinee or evening performance.