Tonight was opening night of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, directed by John Malkovich, part of the Lincoln Center Festival.
|Actors warming up on stage before the play begins|
I was all wound up in anticipation of this production, for many reasons. I had studied the epistolary novel by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos as a French major in college, and later actually acted in a community theater production of Christopher Hampton's play wherein I played (ulp) the Marquise de Merteuil (aka Glenn Close).
None of my past experiences -- reading for literature, watching the film, acting in the play -- prepared me for this tour de force. This is Liaisons Dangereuses as it was meant to be experienced.
It was totally brilliant, which is a relief when expectations and ticket prices run high.
In the Director's Notes in the Playbill, John Malkovich says: "Les Liaisons Dangereuses is a story for the ages. It is here restored to its original language, and I think today's theatergoers will readily grasp it, even if they don't speak French. It is clear and clean and mean and fast. It hurts as life invariably does. It is snotty and decadent and sexy. It is infantile, tragic, and amusing."
It is indeed all of the above. The play is highly charged and erotic, and had many in the audience squirming in their seats. (Some oldsters left at intermission.) It is witty and superbly staged. The acting is superlative (with the exception of a vaguely disappointing Mme de Rosemonde, who was just okay).