Broadway Features and Reviews
"Les Liaisons Dangereuses": Delightful Deceit
By Mazall Sharp, Broadway Magazine
This spring the Roundabout Theatre Company presents the witty and often wicked story of "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" by Christopher Hampton. Set in 1780's France in the decadent world of the aristocracy, La Marquise de Merteuil (Laura Linney) and Le Vicomte de Valmont (Ben Daniels) weave their acquaintances into a web of false love, lust and deceit.
Why, you may ask? Well, with all the money in the world, no television, no cell phone, no email, no ipod, etc, etc...what would you do? From the original novel by Choderlos de Laclos first published in 1782, the Marquise sets the Vicomte on a quest to seduce the most virtuous of all ladies, the saintly Madame de Tourvel, but unbeknownst to him he ends up falling in love with her. Only when it's too late does he realize his true feelings and at that point he is as ruined by the Marquise's plan as Madame de Tourvel is.
Laura Linney pours herself into the very rigid role of an 18th century aristocrat and although a departure from most of her recent work she does it effortlessly. She is cool, cunning and a fierce feminist, using sex to position herself in a place of great power. Ben Daniels brings to life a generation of men we've only ever viewed in museum paintings. You'll recognize his stiff backed poses and pointed foot, no doubt, but the charm, practical jokes and candor he displays puts life into a historical time you've possibly only viewed as tired and ancient.
The costumes are silky and colorful and beautifully created, but tend to represent an earlier time period than the story's intended decade. The setting with floor to ceiling mirrors and yards of damask drapery becomes an important part of the story, accommodating late night rendezvous and secret visitors. Although the very end of the play displays tattered and twisted drapes, unnecessarily spoon feeding the idea of deceit and treachery that the Marquise has created. Nevertheless, "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" is intriguing and a welcome departure from the sugar and spice musicals and plays often produced on Broadway. Please be advised that nudity and sexual themes are presented throughout and it might not be a wise choice for children.
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