Les Liaisons Dangereuses review at Booth Theatre, New York – ‘a dazzling revival’
It’s starting to feel a little unfair. New York audiences are getting better access to Donmar Warehouse productions than Londoners – they are transferring to larger houses and therefore have the potential to be seen by more people. The Donmar is on a transatlantic roll at the moment, with the summer transfer of Privacy to the Public now followed by this sumptuous revival of Christopher Hampton’s play of sexual intrigue. Its yet-to-open new staging of The Tempest has also already booked a run at Brooklyn’s St Ann’s Warehouse in January.
In the case of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, New York is also getting a significantly more confident and sexier iteration of Josie Rourke’s production. Janet McTeer is joined by Liev Schreiber as her co-conspirator in sexual mayhem; together they capture the characters’ supreme vitality as well as their vulnerabilities.
There’s a faster heartbeat – and darker heartache – to their tangled dance of deceit, but Rourke’s production breathes easier on a larger head-on proscenium stage where it is not as crowded as it was on the three-sided Donmar stage.
Tom Scutt’s gorgeous designs make the production look like a painting that has sprung to life, and Rourke’s Broadway cast – all-new apart from McTeer – give appropriately ravishing performances, particularly Birgitte Hjort Sorensen and Elena Kampouris, who are ravished in turn by Schreiber’s Valmont. There’s strong support too, with Raffi Barsoumian, Ora Jones and May Beth Peil among the fine ensemble of New York stage actors.
With the passing last week of Howard Davies, who directed the original RSC production of the play, here’s a production to match its memory.
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