Les Liaisons Dangereuses

Les Liaisons Dangereuses
By Christopher Hampton. From the Novel by Choderlos De Laclos. Wharf 1 Theatre, Sydney Theatre Company. March 31 – June 9, 2012.

It has been one of the most keenly anticipated plays of the Sydney year. The STC debut of Griffin Artistic Director Sam Strong with an A list cast. The result lived up to the hype.

The play is set on the eve of the French revolution. But the wigs and corsets were dispensed with for modern dress. Instead, classic French period furniture and a series of interlinked doors and hallways set the scene. Music interludes with a distinct air of French intrigue added to the atmosphere.

Hugo Weaving played the rapacious scoundrel Le Vicomte De Valmont. He moved around the stage like a panther stalking his prey. It was a role he played several decades ago, and it has matured on him like a good vintage red wine.

There were plenty of delicious damsels on the menu. Geraldine Hakewill as Cécile de Volanges was soon transformed from a young virgin fresh from a convent into a sexual tigress.  

Justine Clarke as La Presidente De Tourvel was unpeeled like an onion. As each layer of resistance was removed we enjoyed the subtle changes in her body language.

The foil for Le Vicomte De Valmonte was Pamela Rabe as Emilie, a veteran of sexual intrigue who flirted only with those she wishes to spurn.  She oozed sophistication.

This was a sexy and stylish production. The occasional flash of partial nudity added spice to the spectacle.

The second act was not as satisfying as the first act.  As the theme turned darker, for my liking there were one or two many pregnant pauses.

But what made this is a scintillating evening of drama was the intimacy of the production.

In the compact Wharf Theatre there is no-where to hide. When the acting is so crisp, it is a delight to be so close the action. The audience was drawn into the whispers behind the doorways to be shocked and amused.

David Spicer.

Images: (from top): Hugo Weaving and Geraldine Hakewill; Pamela Rabe and Hugo Weaving; Justine Clarke and Hugo Weaving & (left to right) Heather Mitchell, Jane Harders, Hugo Weaving, Justine Clarke and Geraldine Hakewill in Sydney Theatre Company’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Photographer: Brett Boardman.


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