Les Liaisons Dangereuses

‘LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES’: Janet McTeer & Liev Schreiber. Photo: Joan Marcus

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LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES
Written by Christopher Hampton
Directed by Josie Rourke
Through January 22, 2017
Booth Theatre
222 West 45th Street
(212-239-6200), www.LiaisonsBroadway.com

 

By David NouNou

Seeing Les Liaisons Dangereuses for the third time, I marveled at how well written and crafted a play it is. Granted, productions can vary, casts can give different interpretations, and weak directors misguide the show but this play about love, passion, deceit, seduction, deception, lust and much more, all set in Paris and the countryside in the 1780s, is a marvel to behold.

The enjoyment of the play is how the two main characters manipulate themselves, each other and the people that cross their paths. Needless to say the victims are virtually all annihilated. Le Vicomte de Valmont (Liev Schreiber) and La Marquise de Merteuil (Janet McTeer) are the two principles who joust and parry in this lethal game of love and conquest with other people’s lives. They were once lovers; now they are friends who constantly challenge each other on whom are they going to conquer next and to what degree is that person going to suffer.

The three lives that are going to be affected include Madame de Tourvel (Birgitte Hjort Sorensen), a married, virtuous woman who is staying with Valmont’s aunt, Madame de Rosemonde (Mary Beth Peil). Valmont truly loves Madame de Tourvel but will ultimately seduce and destroy her. Cecile Volanges (Elena Kampouris) is a girl of 15 out of the convent, and daughter of the Marquise’s cousin, whom she forces Valmont to seduce. The third being Le Chevalier Danceny (Raffi Barsoumian), who is in love with Cecile, but the Marquise decides to dally with him to thwart off and renege on her promise to Valmont.

Liev Schreiber and Janet McTeer are both very good but they don’t strike the right chord together. They lack the sting the two need that causes all this devastation around them and that comes from faulty direction. The reason for this disconnect between the two, although Mr. Schreiber makes a good Valmont, is he is too good looking for any woman to resist in the 1780s or 2016. He wouldn’t have to try very hard to seduce any woman; she wouldn’t be able to resist him. He lacks the smarminess and lechery that his predecessors had. Ms. McTeer lacks the villainess the character desperately needs.

This all comes under the heading of faulty direction by Josie Rourke. A stronger director could have corrected these minor infractions and made it into a much stronger production. In the supporting roles, Mary Beth Peil and Birgitte Hjort Sorensen are the standouts.

Despite the minor flaws I mentioned, I strongly recommend Les Liaisons Dangereuses if you are in the mood for an evening of seduction and deception. Who wouldn’t want to see Liev Schreiber and Janet McTeer live on stage?

 


Edited by Scott Harrah

Published November 4, 2016
Reviewed at press performance on November 3, 2016

 

Les Liaisons Dangereuses

‘LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES’: Janet McTeer. Photo: Joan Marcus

Les Liaisons Dangereuses

‘LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES’: Liev Schreiber. Photo: Joan Marcus

Les Liaisons Dangereuses

‘LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES’: Birgitte Hjort Sorensen & Liev Schreiber. Photo: Joan Marcus

Les Liaisons Dangereuses

‘LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES’: Liev Schreiber & Elena Kampouris. Photo: Joan Marcus

Les Liaisons Dangereuses

‘LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES’: Liev Schreiber & Janet McTeer. Photo: Joan Marcus

Les Liaisons

‘LES LIAISON DANGEREUSES’: Mary Beth Peil & Birgitte Hjort Sorensen. Photo: Joan Marcus

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