REVIEW: South Carolina Shakespeare Company's The Liar

“Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies…”

-Fleetwood Mac

the liar.jpg

 Due to Hurricane Florence, The Liar will end its run tonight!

There are plenty of lies in South Carolina Shakespeare Company’s production of The Liar, previously scheduled to run through Saturday at Columbia Music Festival Association, and not all of them are sweet or little. Actually, there are some absolute whoppers thrown down in this hilarious prevarication-palooza, which playwright David Ives has skillfully translated and peppered with contemporary references, some Shakespeare here and there, and just a hint of sympathy for the eponymous character. Based on the 1644 French comedy, Le Menteur, by Pierre Corneille, the plot is a delightful confection, with a storyline straight out of an episode of Three’s Company. Misunderstandings and mistaken identities abound, lechery is played for laughs, and the bungling anti-hero grows increasingly frantic as his schemes unravel. A somewhat deus ex machina conclusion solves everything by play’s end, and The Liar becomes an honest man…perhaps.


The show opens with a hilarious introduction by Cliton, manservant to Dorante, (who is the titular liar.) As Cliton, Sam Hetler  hits the bull’s-eye with his interpretation of the servant who is much more intelligent than his master. Though this archetype is a stock character in farce, Hetler brings a freshness and sincerity to the role. His is the only character to “break the wall” and address the audience, until Dorante concludes the show with a brief address. Hetler’s opening monologue is part rap, part straight pentameter, and part free-style. Were it not for his period costume (more on that in a minute), one might mistake him for the hands-down winner of an open-mic poetry slam. With his witty delivery and slightly-put-upon demeanor, Hetler masterfully draws the audience into the tale from the very beginning.

Played by SCSC regular, Jeff Driggers, Dorante is an eager young man who abandons his study of  Law to experience all the pleasures and diversions of Paris. (In a delicious twist of irony, Dorante is practically incapable of telling the truth, while Cliton has a comparable inability to tell a lie.) As Dorante, Driggers is a veritable dervish for most of his stage time. Constantly in motion, telling one falsehood after another, with his anxiety growing with every close call, I couldn’t help thinking of The Music Man, and how Driggers is surely destined to play Professor Harold Hill someday. His energy is seemingly boundless, and his delivery and timing are outstanding. My one complaint was that occasionally he spoke so quickly in his con-man patter, I had a difficult time catching each word, but his absolute commitment to the role and slightly over-the-top physicality left no doubt as to his meaning.


Soon enough, he meets two lovely young women, Clarice (Hillary MacArthur), and her friend, Lucrece (Mary Miles). Immediately proving himself a BS artist extraordinaire, he regales the ladies with stories of his battlefield heroism against the German Army. He immediately falls for Clarice, only to misunderstand when Lucrece’s maid, Isabelle, (Brittany Hammock, who turns in a delightful double role) describes her mistress as “the most beautiful one,” and sets his cap to win his inamorata, whom he now thinks is named Lucrece. The three female actors have no difficulty in keeping up with their male castmates, delivering unique, individual, characters who manage to create a cohesive trio (quartet?) without sacrificing or diluting any of their differences. Miles’ Lucrece is appropriately befuddled, without ever resorting to caricature, and uses her facial expressions to communicate just as clearly as her voice. As always, her time onstage is professional and artfully crafted. (After the show, I commented to Miles that if ever I open a playbill and see her name, I know to expect a high-quality performance, and The Liar was no exception.) As Clarice, MacArthur demonstrates not only comedic proficiency, but also an ability to play her unhappy moments with authenticity, while never compromising the overall texture of the silliness surrounding her. Although frequently distressed, MacArthur also provides a sort of calm within the chaos, treating the audience to a layered and complex character. Hammock, with a distinctive half-flowing, half-braided hairdo adding to the illusion, also plays Isabelle’s twin sister, Sabine, who just happens to be Lucrece’s maid. Though played by the same actress, the two roles are somewhat Jekyll-and-Hyde in their differences. Hammock proves that she can play sweet and salty with equal aplomb, and creates two characters with easily-identifiable differences in style and temperament, though I wouldn’t have minded a tiny costume change, such as a hat or scarf, to further punctuate the duality of the roles.


Things get even more turned-around when we meet Alcippe, Dorante’s best friend. Did I mention that Alcippe is engaged to Clarice? The traditional Comedie –Francaise misconceptions and mutually cloudy understandings leave Alcippe constantly vacillating between fury and thick-headed amiability. As played by Josh Kern, Alcippe has the capacity to turn his emotions on a dime (centime?) and clearly revels in playing a hothead and a pleasant fop. Having worked with Kern several times over the last seven or eight years, I have enjoyed watching a kid with a hell of a lot of raw talent grow into a seasoned pro who is quickly mastering his craft.


Also in the melee are Alcippe’s friend, Philiste (Morgan Wood) and Dorante’s father, Geronte (Douglas McConnell), who further complicate matters through relaying inadvertent half-truths and misinformation (Philiste), and arranging for Dorante to marry Clarice, whom Dorante thinks is named Lucrece. While these two roles are somewhat smaller than the rest, both Wood and McConnell make the most of their onstage moments, matching the rest of the cast in skill and commitment to the “reality” of the script.


A story about a midnight boat ride, a hilariously mimed duel, and countless moments of ensuing confusion add to the insanity, with a tidy-if-contrived happy ending for everyone. Director Scott Blanks clearly had a good time creating the frenetic insanity of the piece, yet never allows the chaos to go too far off the rails. Discipline and precision are essential when half the characters are frequently out of control, and Blanks expertly keeps the lunacy tightly blocked and well-rehearsed.

Costume Designer Janet Kile made the interesting choice of dressing each character in a combination of classical and contemporary fashion. (Kern’s plush blue great-coat and Driggers’ ornate vest work particularly well with blue jeans.) While not at all distracting, the costumes helped establish the timelessness of the plot, as does modern scene-change music. (Lady GaGa’s “Bad Romance” was an especially nice touch.) As Cliton, Hetler was the only character to appear in all-period dress, which served his character well, as he not only opens the show by addressing the audience, but comments frequently on the wild events that sweep him along for the ride.


The Liar is a perfect show for those who love classic farce, but it never shies away from its moments of modernity. Playwright David Ives not only translated, but also re-wrote parts of the script, adding multiple modern-day terms and expressions. As with Kile’s costumes and the 21st century music, the dialogue occasionally reinforces the message that similar shenanigans go on in 2018 as went on in 1645.



Frank Thompson is proud to serve as JASPER’s Theatre Editor, and can be reached via email at

Artist Profile: Olga Yukhno by Hallie Hayes

Olga Yukhno's gallery show opens on Thursday night at Anastasia & Friends Gallery and will be up throughout the month of September

artist Olga Yukhno

artist Olga Yukhno

Art is a trade embodied by many around the world; Olga Yukhno clearly displays this.


Olga Yukhno is an artist from Pyatigorsk, Russia, and is the current Gallery Director at The University of South Carolina’s McMaster Gallery.  It is back in her native country where she began her journey as an artist.


As a student at Pyatigorsk State Linguistic University, Yukhno received a Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics and a Master’s degree in Education and Psychology.  However, she continued to pursue her love for art.


Yukhno focused a lot on enameling, using metal work tools that her father had made for her.  She fell in love with Juxtaposition within her art and continued to show this throughout her work.  While in Russia, Yukhno apprenticed under distinguished artist and enamellist Nikolai Vdovkin.  It was here where Yukhno experienced some of her most formative years as an artist.


In 2008, Yukhno moved to the United States where she continued her journey as an artist.  She realized that she no longer had the resources needed to continue enameling, and decided to expand into new mediums.  Yukhno loves making complex and intricate pieces; “I love detail.  I think I’m not capable of making something simple.”  This was one factor that led her to the decision of expanding into 3D-figurative work.


Yukhno says, “It was a very intimidating process for me because it just seemed to be so complicated and intricate, and I was not even sure I was capable of that.  So, I was able to take a class and it changed my, it changed my world because I tried it and I loved it!”


Yukhno has been working with 3D-figurative art for two years now.  It is in this work that she finally feels as if she has found her voice.

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Yukhno’s degree in psychology greatly influences her current work and brings about pivotal questions relating to the human mind.  She correlates her interest in humanity and human psychology with her figurative sculptures.  It is in this that she will be introducing her first 3D-figurative art exhibition, What Moves Us?


What Moves Us? is a solo art exhibition hosted by Anastasia & Friends, displaying Yukhno’s 3D artwork.  The show will open on Thursday, September 6, at 6:00pm and will last until 9:00pm.  The theme of this show is the motivation of people, where Yukhno displays the questions that rest in her mind relating to the motivation of humanity through her artwork.  She enjoys thinking and analyzing different aspects of human psychology, and this can be seen through her intro exhibition.


 Yukhno is very fascinated with denial and how it works.  She finds it interesting how we sometimes recognize when we are in denial, yet we choose to not see it.  She also finds interest in how society influences us as individuals.

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Yukhno says, “I’m extremely interested in the influence of society on us and how we influence on each other, and the issues of judgment … it’s fascinating how some people strive to resist it, but most people don’t, and it makes me wonder why and how, and what makes us give up or what makes us just keep plowing through, refusing to give up.”


These are the ideas that can be expected to be seen through Yukhno’s 3D-figurative sculptures found in the What Moves Us? exhibition.


This is just one of many things Yukhno has planned.  While she will continue with sculpture, she also wants to expand into instillations and collaborative work, bringing in more ideas of societal influences, but also of political and social issues.


Be on the lookout for this talented artist. One can expect more to come from Yukhno in the future.


Did you know that the Jasper Project is an all-volunteer organization that relies on contributors and sponsors to do the work we do, such as publish Jasper Magazine?

We need your Jasper Guild membership fees to make our world go round.

Please visit


and join or renew your membership in the Jasper Guild today.

You'll drink for free at the Jasper release party on September 21st at Stormwater Studios AND you'll see your name in that very issue of

Jasper Magazine.

And, you'll be a part of a pretty fabulous project in Columbia SC that is going into it's 8th year of supporting arts and artists because of people like YOU!


Preview: PURE Theatre Brings The Mountaintop to Columbia

The Mountaintop - Harbison Theatre - Nov. 8 2014 (8)  

Audiences will be transported to 1968 Memphis during The Mountaintop, a drama produced by Charleston’s PURE Theatre at Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014 at 7:30 p.m.


Regarded by the Charleston City Paper as “Charleston’s go-to for the best in contemporary theatre,” PURE Theatre will bring The Mountaintop to Harbison Theatre’s stage during its tour as the inaugural production of a new statewide touring circuit, developed this year in an initiative led by Harbison Theatre with other presenting theatres in the South Carolina Presenters Network. By collaborating with producing theatres like PURE, Harbison Theatre hopes to expand and ensure access to excellent, professional theatre in all South Carolina communities.


With a powerful dialogue that delves into Martin Luther King Jr.’s fundamental humanity, the play takes place on April 3, 1968, in Memphis’ Lorraine Motel, Room 306, where Dr. King spent the final evening of his life. The story consists of only two characters: King and hotel maid Camae, who turns his room service call into a stirring and poignant discourse marked with moments of levity and humor.


The Mountaintop depicts King as a man exhausted from his travels and concerned for the safety of his family, an image that strays from the common view of King as an always-poised, indestructible public figure.


“I love this play because it shows one of our country’s greatest leaders as the person he was when no one was watching,” says Katie Fox, Executive Director of Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College.


“Martin Luther King Jr. accomplished amazing works and led thousands of people, but he was also a person who questioned himself, made mistakes and sought forgiveness,” notes Fox. “When we remember these things about him, we also remind ourselves that though we may experience moments of weakness and doubt, we are called on to be our best for each other.”


It has been a longtime professional goal of Fox’s to make it easier for all communities to have access to high-quality theatre, believing that everyone benefits from involvement with professional artists – yet it can be hard for rural areas and smaller communities to afford top-rated, artistically strong touring groups.


As a part of this new statewide touring circuit, The Mountaintop will be presented in five theaters in Camden, Beaufort, Manning, Cheraw and here at Harbison Theatre in Columbia, the first theatre to invest in the circuit, giving it seed money to make smaller theatres' commitments easier. Fox and fellow participating presenters are optimistic that the statewide touring initiative will be successful with The Mountaintop, and expand in years ahead.



The Mountaintop is one of 9 shows selected for Harbison Theatre’s 2014-2015 Signature Series. Individual show tickets and The Flex Pass, offering a 10% discount with the purchase of 4 or more tickets, can be purchased at


Tickets are available via phone at 803-407-5011, or in person at the Harbison Theatre Box Office, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The box office also will open two hours prior to each show in the Signature Series.


About Harbison Theatre

Rooted in the performing arts, Harbison Theatre at Midlands Technical College offers programs and productions that encourage reflection, examination and discovery; and that provide entertainment, education and opportunity to professionals, learners and community members in all stages of life. To learn about upcoming events, purchase tickets, or pursue sponsorship and volunteer opportunities with Harbison Theatre, please visit



Guest Blog: Cathy Stayman invites you to Gurf Morlix at The Little Yellow Music House

Gurf Morlix

The intimacy of a private event like this is replicated all over the world now and LYMH is fortunate to be among them. -- Cathy Stayman


The Little Yellow Music House will be hosting an evening of music with song writer and producer Gurf Morlix on Sunday, November 9th. As a supporter and mutual friend of Jasper’s creator, Cindi, it would be my pleasure to extend an invitation to you.


The Little Yellow Music House is my living room where we have changed it up once a month, for the last three years, to host small intimate house shows. The living room furniture is slid aside, followed by bringing in comfy folding chairs allowing us a relaxing cozy atmosphere. In preparation for the concert, we are all asked to bring a dish to share along with your choice of beverage. The intimacy of a private event like this is replicated all over the world now and LYMH is fortunate to be among them.



A friend of mine once said, "Gurf is a rare visitor, and a peerless songsmith. Don't miss him. He's also droll. You can never go wrong with droll. Anyone can be acerbic, but it takes a master to be droll."


“In my pocket, weighed a thousand pounds. I could hardly move, it was dragging me down.”

“Strike a bargain, what you think you need. But, you’re gonna get cut and you’re gonna bleed.”


It’s lyrics like these which stands up and grab my full attention! What about you? Who is this fellow? His name is Gurf Morlix, yet I don’t know him. As time passed, his name continued to show up on other CD liner notes, yet I still didn’t know him.


I first saw Gurf, along with Kevin Triplett, in Charlotte at the Evening Muse. The two of them were touring in support of Kevin’s taping of the film “Duct Tape Messiah” and Gurf’s CD “Blaze Foley’s 113th Wet Dream”. What kind of combination is that? Gurf used to play with Blaze Foley until the untimely death of his friend. I don’t know if I want to tell you about the bits and pieces I’ve collected in my head over the last handful of years. I feel strongly that Gurf Morlix and furthermore his friend Blaze Foley’s lyrics can, will, and do stand up on their own.

“I’m tired of running around finding answers to questions I already know.”

“Almost felt you touching me, just now. Wish I knew which way to turn and go.”

As we are reminded over and over again, very few of these well crafted songs end up recorded by the legends. As for Blaze Foley, John Prine recorded Clay Pigeons, Merle Haggard recorded If I Could Fly, and Lyle Lovett recorded Election Day. In other situations such as Gurf’s, he has either worked with or produced for Lucinda Williams, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Warren Zevon, Ian McLagan, Patty Griffin, Robert Earl Keen, Michael Penn, Buddy Miller, Mary Gauthier, Tom Russell, Jim Lauderdale, Grant Peeples, and Slaid Cleaves, to name but a few. Oh my goodness, the feeling that must be!


For this house concert there is a $20 suggested donation with 100% of your donation given to the musician.

4:00 PM - BYOB/Potluck Social Gathering

5:30 PM - Gurf Morlix


In conclusion, I suppose this is how we all get to know people, one note at a time, one word at a time, and one conversation at a time. We’d be so blessed to have you come join our musical family at our Little Yellow Music House. To get your reservations, email or call me at 803-309-0214.


Your hostess,


Cathy Stayman is one of Columbia's many stalwart music supporters and aficionados who keeps her eyes peeled for exceptional artists to share with the Columbia music community. She is the host and owner of The Little Yellow Music House.






Meet the 2nd Act Filmmakers - pt. 2

2nd act multiple cams We're taking the time leading up to the debut of Jasper's first ever film festival to introduce you to our filmmakers and let you in on a few of the behind the scenes machinations that go into putting on a film festival.

We've had a ball, but it hasn't all been easy.

We started out with 30 potential filmmakers who were interested in being a part of the festival. We gave them all specific instructions on what they should send us to let us -- and our jurors -- know they were ready to participate in a festival of the caliber we were hoping to create.  We were overwhelmed by the applicants! Luckily, we brought in some big guns to make the very difficult decisions of who to invite to participate -- Lee Ann Kornegay, Simon Tarr, Bradley Powell, Caletta Baily, and Janell Rohan.

Film editor and festival director Wade Sellers and I were so happy to have these guys in the studio so that we didn't have to make the cuts. It was a long and (sometimes) tense Saturday afternoon. But when the work was done and the finalists were all accounted for, we knew we had a special group.

Meet two more of our awesome filmmakers below.


Michael McClendon



We hope you're as excited as we are about this new young group of independent filmmakers who call Columbia, SC their home. There's some extremely impressive talent here.

Please help Jasper support these filmmakers and the growth of their community by joining us on our Kickstarter campaign. There are some pretty nifty prizes available -- including reserved seats at the festival.

2nd act kickstarter

Move to Kickstarter by clicking here. Thanks!