LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES
Director: Josie Rourke
Screenwriter: Christopher Hampton
Runtime: 165 mins
Australian release date: 9 April 2016
Previewed at: Ritz Cinema, Randwick, Sydney on 30 March 2016
Direct from London’s Donmar Warehouse comes the latest National Theatre Live production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Christopher Hampton’s finely tuned adaptation of Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’s 1782 novel.
This magnificent portrayal of pre-revolutionary France, which scandalized the world on its publication, still resonates on many levels while exploring the themes of jealousy, betrayal and desire, as the two main characters manipulate all and sundry in their quest to prove their superiority… and their imperviousness to love.
Josie Rourke’s direction of this tale about sexually devious power players is a fine piece of period staging. The set is lit by candle chandeliers and draped in white dust sheets that provide an almost surreal, gauzy atmosphere. The scheming couple at the heart of the intrigue is magnificently portrayed by Janet McTeer, whose arch performance as the heartless Marquise de Merteuil will have you squirming in your seat, and Dominic West, as the equally harsh Vicomte de Valmont, who shows no mercy for those of whom he takes advantage. These two rivals are bonded by their love of cruel games and devious schemes but ultimately are brought undone by jealousy and disloyalty. The leads are ably supported by Elaine Cassidy, whose portrayal of the lovelorn Madame de Tourvel is heart-wrenching, Edward Holcroft, as the duped Chevalier Danceny, Morfydd Clark, as the ingénue Cecile de Volanges and the fabulous Jennifer Saayeng as de Valmont’s ‘friend with benefits’ Èmilie.
On its debut in England in 1985 Les Liaisons Dangereuses was awarded the Evening Standard Award for Best Play and the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play but, until this fine revival, it had never returned to the London stage. Now we have the opportunity to revel in the play’s intrigues once more. It’s a fabulous story of men and women playing with fire, believing they can’t get burnt but finding out that no-one is immune to the vicissitudes of the human heart.