'Dangerous Liaisons' at Reduxion: Beautifully dangerous
“Les Liaisons Dangereuses” or in English, “Dangerous Liaisons” is a twisted story that reminds us the French Revolution was absolutely necessary. The novel by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos, written in 1782 and adapted by Christopher Hampton, needs no modern twist to update the material to the decadence of today; it is certainly wicked enough. This play is a perfect choice for Reduxion Theatre Company in this “scandalous” season.
Directed by Erin Woods, “Dangerous Liaisons” displays beautiful costumes by Lloyd Cracknell on an elegant set designed by Uldarico Sarmiento. This production is cast with seasoned performers capable of bestowing characters with credibility. “Dangerous Liaisons” is a glimpse into the depravity of a slothful aristocracy bent on self-destruction. The villainous Marquise de Merteuil and her former lover, the notorious Victomte de Valmont, have a wager over the seduction of the virginal and lovely Cecile Volanges. A further complication is included in the added seduction of Madame de Tourvel, a woman of good character and as beautiful in attitude as in physical attributes. The story details these events with candor and this production of “Dangerous Liaisons” presents them with as much sensitivity as possible. Despite this care, theatre goers should carefully consider companions before attending. Woods captures cruelty and debauchery with the cast and crew for a horrifically truthful and titillating scandal, and this is not a show for children.
Kris Schinske is La Marquise de Merteuil, and her face lends itself to a wonderful and evil smirk as she orchestrates the destruction of her peers in order to take revenge on Valmont. One can see that her motivation is in the entertainment value of their ruin as much as revenge. The Schinske smirk is devastating. Matthew E. Ellis is Le Victomte de Valmont, and his black heart is hidden in his bright blue eyes. It is almost easy to trust such a man, until he smiles and his eyes squint in delight at the discomfort of his victims. He is just the sort of fellow a father most fears his daughter will meet. Crystal Ecker is Madame de Tourvel, and her virtue is genuine and honest. She listens carefully and cares with abandonment. Her destruction is assured; Ecker does justice to the most sympathetic and genuine role in the show. These principles make the show what it must be. Minor imperfections in language will undoubtedly smooth out.
The two young lovers are Mariah Webb as Cecile Volanges and Matt Holmes as Le Chevalier Danceny. The fresh innocence of youth radiates from their faces until Valmont becomes mentor to both. Webb shows us an innocence bordering on stupidity common to most silly young girls; she reveals the exuberance and eagerness of youth, and her capitulation is shocking. Holmes is interesting as the young Danceny, whose lack of worldliness allows him to admire Valmont. When he realizes his folly, it is too late, but he takes it like a man in the fight between the two, and both Ellis and Holmes have mastered the fine art of fencing. The fight choreography is the professional work of Ellis and his fight captain is Kate Le. This is truly one of the highlights of the production.
Remaining cast members delight the audience with snippets of humor rather than honor. Ian Clinton is excellent as Azolan, valet to Valmont. Kate Le as Emilie the smug and sexy courtesan, Sue Ellen Reiman as Valmont’s wise and understanding aunt, Mme. de Rosemonde, and Claire Powers as the clueless and protective mother to Cecile, Mme. de Volanges are all excellent in their roles. Bob Mann is expert and precise in role of the strictly opinionated and somewhat disapproving—and silent—Major-Domo.
“Dangerous Liaisons” plays through February 28th at Reduxion Theatre, and patrons should definitely note the work of artist Lisa Jean Allswede, which is displayed in the theatre lobby. Reduxion Theatre is located at 914 N. Broadway Avenue; tickets are available at Reduxiontheatre.com or by calling 405-604-4730.