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  • Radley College, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX14 2HR
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'Dangerous Liaisons'

'Dangerous Liaisons'

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 Social

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