Why did this show not succeed? It sounded so promising, yet when I saw it, it was very disappointing. Thoughts?
There was miscasting, and it dragged. Liaisons.
I had big problems with the dramatization even in the acclaimed original production (Lindsay Duncan did as well as could be expected but although I otherwise loved Alan Rickman on both film and stage, I was not favorably impressed with his affected and unappealing Valmont - I sadly agreed with Michael Feingold's '87 review that his Valmont was like a bad Ian McKellen impersonation). Notably, Frears's brilliant movie, also from a Hampton script, is vastly superior to Hampton's play. The movie is more faithful to the novel in both plot and, critically, near ebullient energy. It's been a long while since I've seen the play, and I have yet to see the current revival, but as I recall, the book and the movie provide exactly the right tinge of sweetly recognizable love, whereas the play is overrun with a campy bitterness (though to some degree an entertaining one).
I agree with Henrik -- the play has never worked for me. It feels tawdry and of its time -- the late 1980s -- like a mashup of Masterpiece Theatre and 9 1/2 Weeks. It has little of the novel's wit or intrigue. This production's casting flaws and inert direction just magnified the problems already there.
From a purely commercial and non-content perspective, I never really thought a) a play, b) with this title, and c) with these names on the marquee really ever stood a chance in 2016. The commercial theatre market is a particularly strong one these days, and ticket buyers have a multitude of other more easily appealing options.
Yes, I remember quite liking the film, and I think the producers here were thinking that the name recognition from the film association plus having Liev Shreiber would work, but it didn't seem to work, did it? That's why just having a star in a play that inspiried a 1980's movie, is not always the best idea for success. Look at On Yoir Feet, Fun Home and Dear Evan Hansen...all original without big stars. And successful. I think a good story trumps some play or musical which can only tout a star. Look at Hughie with Forest Whitaker. That failed miserably.
And while Hamilton is based on a biography, it was done with such intelligence, style and intelligence, it works. Not everyone can have the genius of Lin Manuel Miranda, but I think originality can trump star power. (I hate using the word Trump, lol)
"And while Hamilton is based on a biography, it was done with such intelligence, style and intelligence, it works. Not everyone can have the genius of Lin Manuel Miranda"Are you really comparing Christopher Hampton's skills in adaptations and as a playwright unfavourably with LMM? Admittedly I haven't seen this recent production but surely his body of work (and awards) speak for themselves.
We saw Les Liaisons at the Ambassador Theatre in London after Alan Rickman had left the show. Pip Miller, who was playing Valmont at the time, was terrific. He brought a lot more humor to the role yet managed to capture the seriousness of Valmont's passion and conflict in his feelings for Mme. de Tourvel. We did not enjoy John Malkovich's utterly reptilian Valmont in the Frears' film.
At first I thought A8 was giving us a reference to the "A Little Night Music" song, but then I realized he was pointing out the OP's typo. Much more on brand
I saw it towards the end of the previews and had looked at last year's reviews of the London show (with Dominic West and McTeer) before buying my ticket. The Guardian and Telegraph both gave the production strong reviews. I wonder what accounts for the different reception amongst U.S. critics (and I don't think it's substantially a matter of West's performance vs. Schreiber's).
It was staged in a much smaller (250 seat) venue.
I'm surprised, I saw it a few nights ago and thought it was an excellently done production with very strong acting and performances all around.
I never much liked the play. I love the novel and the Stephen Frears motion picture. That movie just reeled me in from the very beginning and although Close and Malkovich gave great performances the real surprise for me was Michelle Pfeiffer's incandescent performance as "Madame Marie de Tourvel". It is one of her finest.
can anyone explain why the florescent lights come down during the last scene? I'm still super confused by that.
LightsOut90 said: "can anyone explain why the florescent lights come down during the last scene? I'm still super confused by that. "I just saw the show tonight and was wondering the same thing. The entire set overall was the worst part of the show to me. Anyone know their reasoning for not extended the set to the sides? I was sitting in the center Orchestra yet could see the actors walk through the door and see the other side of it, why would this be done on purpose? I saw no benefit from it.Other then the set I really enjoyed the performances, especially Liev. I haven't seen any other version so maybe that's why I enjoyed it so much. I normally have pretty good luck with being around well behaved audiences but tonight was the worst. If it says no late seating then don't seat them late. The cast actually waited a minute or so for several groups of people to find their seats after being seated late. The guy in front of me looked and acted like he wanted to be anywhere else and he completely ruined the experience for his wife cause she kept gesturing him to stop. I saw several people leave early and at intermission but I really enjoyed it so what the hell do I know lol
What typo are you referring to in the OP?
Yes I forgot about the fluorescent chandeliers. They were strange and didn't seem to fit into an 18th Century chateaux
Braniff Forever said: "What typo are you referring to in the OP? You spelled Liaisons as "Liasons"
I intensely disliked the earlier Broadway production, especially Lindsay Duncan, who I found weak and ineffectual in the role. Thought the film was great, although Malkovich was perhaps a tad too slimy, but Glenn Close was as good as she has ever been. Liked the current production a lot, saw it at a late preview, and was surprised at its lackluster critical reception.
I liked Malkovich. Had no trouble believing him as an 18th century rake. He was reptilian and slimy but also self-consciously boyish. A man-child Valmont. I could easily accept his losing his wits with the Marquise, his trajectory from Cecile's non-threatening ally to her rapist, and his ultimate seduction of Tourvel.
Just saw this, tonight and was sorry I didn't stay home and watch Hairspray.I concluded, about midway through, that one of my favorite novels, has not translated well, into a play. This revival is surely better than the last, with Laura Linney (just dreadful, in every way), but it's not worth your time.I agree with others that the film is far superior to the play and closer to the novel. This play needs passion and fire to be believable. This play was on quaaludes, downers and prozac, all at the same time. I felt like I was watching a bunch of sixth graders who giggled every time somebody said something "dirty." There was a good bit of laughter, but much of it felt misplaced.Janet McTeer was lifeless and one-note, from beginning to end. Liev Schreiber didn't have much to work with, from his co-stars and didn't really impress one way or the other. The supporting players ranged from adequate to awful.The set was ugly and evocative of nothing and I have no idea what the fluorescent lights were all about. It looked like an attempt at a framing device that was dropped, but who knows? Most costumes were okay, but some, stood out, as anachronistic and ugly.There were some empty seats in the orchestra, after intermission, including the one next to me (although the man slept for the entire 95min first act), but it got a standing ovation and people seemed to enjoy more than I did.Overall, I didn't hate it, but it was kind of a waste of three hours.
I saw this last night, and overall I really did not care for this. This was my first introduction to the material as I have never read the novel or watched the film. The performances are strong enough for the most part, but the production and direction are extremely misguided. The set made no sense, the transitions between scenes were awkward, and, while the lighting was pretty (especially the chandeliers), the fluorescent lights served no purpose. This is one of those three hour shows where you feel every single second.
Braniff Forever said: "Yes I forgot about the fluorescent chandeliers. They were strange and didn't seem to fit into an 18th Century chateaux "Fluorescent lighting is notoriously unflattering - it exposes people and all of their flaws. Because of when it was incorporated, I found it to be an effective choice. Like much of the play, it was unsettling to see, and I appreciated it as an extension of that.
I am surprised by the love of Malkovich in the film version. He is so icky. He's not at all the type to charm the skirt over a lady's head. I also feel that the film lacked a certain amount of fun that I should feel needs to be there.In terms of adaptation of the novel, I like Valmont much more. It finished shooting before Dangerous Liaisons, but got released the year after. Colin Firth is far more charming than Malkovich could ever dream of being, and the movie feels both dirty and fun.I watched the National Theatre Live version of the London revival and felt rather bored by it. Once again, it was missing the fun that needs to be part of the play.
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