Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Les Liaisons Dangereuse

photo: Joan Marcus

Despite flashes of nudity and some overtly sexual on-stage business (even the climactic swordfight is staged with some crotch-to-butt thrusting) there isn't much danger in this handsome but mostly unexciting production of Liaisons: Ben Daniels' performance as Valmont is more bad boy romantic hero than icy sexual predator. As his duplicitous, manipulative partner in crime, Laura Linney works tirelessly but the role seems way out of her comfort zone and you're always aware how hard she is laboring. The stakes are therefore not set high enough in the first act (when we're meant to take at least a little perverse pleasure watching the two plotting and seducing) but the material is so strong that the second act (when we're meant to see how pitiful they truly are) works anyway: it's a solidly constructed, highly entertaining play, and even this production's missteps can't completely ruin that.

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