Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Les Liaisons Dangereuses

Laura Linney is chilling as the Marquise de Merteuil in the Roundabout Theatre Company’s uneven revival of Christopher Hampton’s 1987 play. Portraying a woman who believes “love is something you use, not fall into like quicksand,” Linney portrays her cold, calculating cruelty as she ruthlessly plots to destroy all who have hurt her.

What sinks this production is that her fellow schemer, as played by Ben Daniels, is too one dimensional to ever effectively deceive anyone. The Vicomte de Valmont is supposed to be so clever at detecting what women want that he can seduce anyone. The sleazy part he has down pat, but sexy and appealing, no way. So the pair’s plot to seek vengeance through his seductions and conquests seems unbelievable from the start.

This is a problem for a show that is close to three hours long. Even if Valmont had been more convincingly played, this is too long for a play with such a predictable ending. I left wondering why Roundabout had decided to revive it.

Katrina Lindsay’s costumes are lush and Scott Pask’s minimalist staging is effective. I also always like seeing Mamie Gummer. Yes, she a good actress in her own right, but she looks so much like her mother, Meryl Streep, that I am fascinated by watching her. That, unfortunately, is really the only fascinating element of this revival.

No comments: