Liar, Liar: Kenworthy ablaze with 2-person play


The Moscow Art Theatre (Too) (MAT), founded in 2011, is known for shows such as “Santaland Diaries” and “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).” Originally, shows were performed in an old grain silo and other venues around the Palouse, including the University of Idaho and Washington State University.

Recently, the Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre offered MAT a permanent home within the theater space. Now Kenworthy is home to MAT and the Moscow Community Theater while keeping the space available for other scheduled events.

“Now we have two resident theaters to produce live, local plays,” said Kenworthy executive director Christine Gilmore.

Kenworthy is accessible year-round, something she said helps to accommodate patrons.

Gilmore said the keyword is balance, making sure the Kenworthy can keep offering services to patrons with the same great experience. Even with the addition of another theater company’s schedule, the goal is to create a good experience whether it’s a movie, show or private event.

MAT actor Dave Harlan said that even though the Kenworthy will be a primary production location, he hopes to take shows to other venues and even back to the grain silo as a secondary production location.

“This has allowed me to really find a place very centrally located, and a permanent theater people are familiar with to be my home base to most of our shows,” Harlan said.

The MAT’s next show is “Dear Liar,” a dramatization of letters written between playwright George Bernard Shaw and actress Mrs. Patrick Campbell. The two-person play involves both monologues and interactive dialogue, bringing to life this true story, Gilmore said.

Harlan, who plays George Bernard Shaw, described the show as the conversations between the two characters from 1899 through 1939. The letters, developed into a script by playwright Jerome Kilty, chronicles the characters’ platonic yet romantic relationship, Harlan said.

“It’s interesting … the playwright says we’re not actually trying to be George and Patrick but definitely actors portraying these people and telling their story,” said Chris Stordahl, who plays Mrs. Campbell.

Though the show is made of only two actors as opposed to a larger ensemble, Stordahl said the format is simple in some ways and demanding in others. Both characters are onstage the entire time.

“Because it’s just two people and it’s spoken through letters, I had a mild concern it would just end up being two talking heads reading letters,” Stordahl said. “But it’s not that at all.”

The characters switch from reading letters at their desks to talking with one another onstage, Harlan said. The process of working with just one fellow actor makes for a more intense and distilled interaction when talking, Harlan said.

That’s not to say that it makes things easier than working with a larger cast. There are different processes that require different skills, and at the core the goal is to embody these characters whether the cast is big or small, Harlan said.

 “Dear Liar” will show at Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre March 12-14 and 19-21 at 7:30 p.m. There are also matinee shows March 14 and 22 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 and are available at the door or at BookPeople of Moscow.