Les Liaisons DangereusesCategory: Past Shows
Lighting DesignerLeo Steele
CastMerteuil....................Eleanor Lamb Mme Volanges...........Frances Burton Cecile Volanges..........Kim D'Santos Valmont..................Tom Daplyn Azolan....................Tim Burton Mme de Rosemonde.....Sue Brown Tourvel...................Rosie Wise Emilie.....................Leah Rouse Danceny..................Joe Taylor Stage manager..........Anthony Sebastian ASM.......................Phill Vickery Lighting operator.......Albert Crick
Christopher Hampton’s notorious adaptation of Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’ novel of the same title; where the sexual politics and etiquette of the French Court have been transferred to the decadent, cocktail-infused “Roaring Twenties”. Where is the line drawn between sex and sexuality? At what point does the young ingénue really mean “No!”? How far can man be driven to the point that he would kill for a woman who doesn’t love him? The battle of the rakes is ever present and sexual depravity is the dominant theme in this tale of sexual perversity in Paris.
Dangerous Liaisons in the Roaring Twenties
A brilliant, merciless expose of what may have been the world’s most degenerate society- that of eighteenth century French aristocracy which hid, behind a polished facade of manners and modes, an incredibly cold-hearted debauchery’ – Andre Maurois
Proclaimed a scandalous and racy piece of work when first published, Choderlos de Laclos’ 18th century novel ‘Les Liaisons Dangereuses’ has consequently been adapted and performed in theatre, film and television. In particular Christopher Hampton’s adapted play has entranced audiences with its intriguing and sometimes frank treatment of the themes of sex, jealousy, revenge and betrayal.
The two adversaries; the conniving and captivating Marquise de Merteuil, and the irresistible predator Vicomte de Valmont, form a partnership unlike any other. Their games are as enticing as they are shocking, not least because of the eighteenth century environment of propriety and purity.
Transposed, however, to a 1920s setting , the situations and characters take on new meanings. In the context of the Roaring Twenties, a period when sexual liberation, frivolity, controversy, and above all, jazz were prevalent, the ‘debauchery’ of the characters becomes less sinister, but rather part of the excitable rebellion of a decadent era. The Roaring Twenties were, after all, the decade of the flappers, independent girls with shorter hemlines and lower waistbands, unrestrained by the corsets and coiffed styles of Laclos’ original novel. The Marquise, therefore, becomes a leader of this rebellious movement in the play, citing victory as the ultimate pleasure. Sex and love, whilst occasionally pleasing and amusing, are far below the true relish found in conquering the morals and social confinements of another, particularly the confinements of purity.
Valmont’s dominion over the virtue of the two innocent conquests, Cecile and Madame de Tourney are slightly less shocking – though no less entertaining – as the women are not constrained by the costumes of the period. Valmont’s games are somehow more playful. One thing that remains constant between the two eras, the french aristocratic society of Laclos, and the 1920s setting on the stage, is the unashamed pursuit of decadence. Laclos was writing in the days leading up to the French Revolution, when fashion and luxury were at their peak. Whilst the Roaring Twenties, also called ‘the Golden Years’ were filled with the promise of the possibilities found in technology, particularly movies and radio. The combination of the indulgent and reckless abandon of the 20s and the Machiavellian scheming of the two scoundrels in the play brings a new sense of roguishness to their actions.