Review: LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES at Blackfriars Theatre

What did our critic think of LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES at Blackfriars Theatre?

By: Feb. 02, 2024
Review: LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES at Blackfriars Theatre

“Les Liaisons Dangereuses” is a story with myriad adaptations. The 18th century novel was spun into a stage play in 1985 by playwright Christopher Hampton, which was then adapted into the 1988 film “Dangerous Liaisons”, which was THEN adapted into the 90’s cult sensation “Cruel Intentions.” It’s not hard to understand why; who doesn’t love tawdry palace intrigue with a dash (Splash? Tidal wave?) of sexuality and decadence? If these things are piquing your interest, better hurry to Rochester’s Blackfriars Theatre before February 11th.

In “Les Liaisons Dangereuses”, The Marquise de Merteuil (Erin-Kate Howard) and the Le Vicomte de Valmont (Rick Staropoli) are former lovers who still share an appetite for seduction. Embroiled in a game of revenge and manipulation, Merteuil goads Valmont into corrupting the virtuous – and betrothed - Cecile de Volanges (Campbell McDade Clay). But Valmont has his eye on another prize: honorable Madame de Tourvel (Kit Prelewitz). A tale of seduction set in France among aristocrats before the revolution, this is a classic drama exploring decadent sexuality, morals, and manipulation played as the ultimate game, with tragic results.

As noted, it’s not hard to understand the appeal of “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” and its many adaptations. It overflows with sexual politics, backhandedness, manipulation, and twisted love triangles. It’s also easy to understand why subject matter of this nature would be endlessly adapted; these themes are timeless! Admittedly, “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” struck me as a little slow and overburdened with dialogue that didn’t do enough to propel the story forward, sentiments shared by a few nearby audience members during intermission (a criticism I would direct more at the playwriting and less at this production specifically).

That all said, as an **experience**, “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” has much to offer. Director Carl Del Buono brings a delectable 80’s flair to the production, throwing in everything from sunglasses to flashing lights to 80’s chart-toppers. And on the acting front, the cast—particularly the standout women performers-- of “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” hold nothing back, led by a powerhouse performance by Erin-Kate Howard whose Marquise de Merteuil is powerful, magnetic, funny, and at times even a little frightening.

If laughs, corsets, promiscuity, and powdered wigs are to your liking, look no further than “Les Liaisons Dangereuses”; for tickets and more information, click here.