Les Liaisons Dangereuses
by Christopher Hampton

Donmar Warehouse
41 Earlham Street,
London WC2H 9LX

7.30, mats Thurs, Sat 2.30pm 

Box Office: 0844 871 7624 (Booking fee of £2.50 per transaction)
Telephone Mon-Sat 9am-10pm, Sun 10am-8pm
In person, Mon-Sat, 10am-curtain up (No booking fee)

Runs: 2hr 35mins incl interval, to Feb 13.

Review by Carole Woddis of performance seen Dec 18, 2015:

A handsome revival
This was the show that was due to mark Michelle Dockery (Downtown’s Lady Mary Crawley) return to the stage. But in October she pulled out and would no longer be playing Madame de Tourvel, the woman of high moral virtue overwhelmed by arch seducer, Le Vicomte de Valmont.

Perhaps she did not care for surrender under such circumstances, albeit in the arms of Dominic West’s Valmont! At any event, Elaine Cassidy who took her place at comparatively short notice, does a fair job of showing virtue breached.

All eyes however in Josie Rourke’s handsome revival of Christopher Hampton’s 30-year old award winning adaptation of Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’s scandalous 18th century, pre-revolutionary epistolary novel (later made into an equally successful film by Stephen Frears) are on the combative, competitive battle of the sexes between Janet McTeer’s Madame de Merteuil and West’s Valmont.

Full of bonnes mots and witty cynicism, it perhaps shocks less in these post-modern days. Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf is but one of a number of classics that have now entered the public consciousness where former lovers play out vindictive point-scoring on passing innocents with ruthless dexterity – Madame de Tourvel being one victim, Cécile, recently out of the convent another and even Cécile’s suitor, Le Chevalier Danceny a third – only for the authors to reveal their own vulnerabilities.

McTeer, silkily disarming and twice as dangerous, makes a magnificent bosom-heaving monstre – addictively duplicitous as she argues in very 18th century liberal/feminist terms, it is her one power-weapon, as a woman, against life’s injustices.

In contrast West’s Valmont initially lacks the reptilian carapace of either Alan Rickman or John Malkovich (in the film) but is quietly devastating in his seduction scene with Cécile and transparently emotionally destroyed by Merteuil’s final challenge for him to abandon Madame de Tourvel.

The heart is a cruel hunter. Josie Rourke’s ancien regime production with its broken and empty picture frames – and occasionally unfortunate sight-lines – tells us this is a society on the way out. The production and the play, however, on the contrary, are most definitely `in’.

Much to savour in an intelligent night out.

Les Liaisons Dangereuses
by Christopher Hampton

La Marquise de Merteuil: Janet McTeer
Cécile Volanges: Morfydd Clark
Madame de Volanges: Adjoa Andoh
Le Vicomte de Valmont: Dominic West
Azolan: Theo Barklem-Biggs
Madame de Rosemonde: Una Stubbs
Madame de Tourvel: Elaine Cassidy
`Emilie: Jennifer Saayeng
Le Chevalier Danceny: Edward Holcroft
Major-domo: Thom Petty
Julie: Alison Arnopp

Director: Josie Rourke
Designer: Tom Scutt
Lighting Designer: Mark Henderson
Sound Designer: Carolyn Downing
Composer: Michael Bruce
Fight Director: Richard Ryan
Movement Director: Arthur Pita
Casting Director: Alastair Coomber CDG
Voice Coach: Barbara Houseman
Dialect Coach: Majella Hurley
Resident Assistant Director: Zoé Ford

First perf of this production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses at the Donmar Warehouse Theatre, London, Dec 11, 2015.

2015-12-21 09:57:18

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