On Thursday 28th January, seven
French Oxbridge aspirants, along with Mr Barlass and Mme Nott, headed to the
Vue cinema in Oxford to see a live broadcast from the National Theatre of 'Les
Liaisons Dangereuses’, a story of sex, deception and betrayal, originally
written as a set of letters but adapted for the stage by Christopher Hampton.
The show starred Dominic West as the Vicomte de Valmont and Janet McTeer as the
Marquise de Merteuil.
Having read parts of the book
beforehand, we all had an idea of what to expect from the plot, although there
were some major differences in style. Set in the 1780s, the stage was entirely
lit by candles to give it a more authentic feel, and various paintings from the
period added to the effect. With only a handful of characters, clad in clothes
typical of the period, we were able to intimately get to know each of them. The
plot centres around Valmont’s plan to seduce a woman of devout faith and gain
written proof of his success in order to receive sexual reward from Merteuil.
But with his attempt to trivialise sex as a game come complications that he
could never have anticipated. Merteuil, who starts out as a flirtatious
individual is ousted as devious and dominating. Janet McTeer has received
resounding acclaim for her portrayal of this brilliantly dominating, meticulous
character whose personality she expresses through her powerful tone and her
piercing eyes. As the divisive plans of the protagonists start to fall apart
and their true characters begin to become apparent, the set becomes,
symbolically, more empty to reflect these changes, along with some pieces of
their clothing beginning to vanish.
The general consensus was that
the play was powerful and striking, and importantly, much more comprehensible
that the epistolary manner in which the book was written.
Review by Harry Rogers, 6.1 K Social and Sam Turner, 6.1 E