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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

 
LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES
at the Amercian Airlines Theatre

GAMES PEOPLE PLAY
By MATT WINDMAN

  Ben Daniels and Laura Linney/PH:Sara Krulwich

Christopher Hampton's Les Liaisons Dangereuses is a total anomaly in modern dramatic literature. Based on the 1782 French novel of the same title ,it is a dark comedy cum-erotic thriller that observes two pre-Revolutionary aristocrats who use sex as a weapon in a vicious game of humiliating and destroying their friends and enemies. This involves seducing a 15-year old virginin one scene followed by a happily married, fervently religious wife in the next.

It was turned into the 1988 film Dangerous Liaisons with John Malkovich and Glenn Close and directly inspired the 1999 teen flick Cruel Intentions with Reese Witherspoon and Sarah Michelle Geller.

The set design consists mostly of drapes and sheets that eventually twist and turn into a giant cobweb, symbolizing the disastrous deadly mess created by the protagonists. And as with any period European drama , the silk skirt and embroidered coat costumes are extravagantly plush.

For any production of the play to succeed, a strong and seductive male and female are needed to portray the longtime friends and occasional lovers Viconte de Valmont and Marquise de Merteuil. Alan Rickman and Lindsay Duncan first played the pair in the original 1988 Broadway production.

Now donning the period costumes is the equally excellent team of Laura Linney and Ben Daniels, both of who emphasize the play's sexiness and smart humor.

In the spirit of Don Juan, Daniels dynamically indulges in his character's greed, carelessness and showiness to great effect. He also nails the Marquis' emotional breakdown later into the play, which leads him to voluntarily die in a duel.

While Linney's character remains static, she too thrives as a cunning, conniving, corrupt yet simultaneously magnetic and mesmerizing lady of society.

 

 


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