Richard and I saw *Les Liaisons Dangereuses* on Broadway on 12/11. This story has been done to death, most famously in the 1989 movie *Dangerous Liaisons* with Glenn Close, John Malkovich, and Michelle Pfeiffer. The source a French novel from 1782, an epistolary novel by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos. Scandalous at the time.
Roger Vadim made it into a movie in 1959, gave it a contemporary setting at a ski resort. It's kind of hilarious and wrong, but is saved by the jazz score by Thelonius Monk and Duke Jordan and most of all by the performance of the divine Jeanne Moreau. Christopher Hampton adapted the book for the stage in London - - it was done at the Royal Shakespeare Company by Alan Rickman and Lindsay Duncan in 1985, who did it again on Broadway in 1987. This, I'm sure, led to the two 1989 movies - - the Close/Malkovich/Pfeiffer version, directed by Stephen Frears, and a version directed by Milos Forman, starring Anette Bening, Colin Firth, and Meg Tilly. It's also the source for the all wrong but so much fun *Cruel Intentions,*, with Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, and Reese Witherspoon. Richard and I even saw an opera version of it last spring, written in 1994 by Conrad Susa. That was a delight (link below).
I saw it on Broadway in 2008, that was not very satisfying, mostly because Laura Linney was a total dud as the Marquise. Her best gifts are sincerity and warmth, and she worked too hard (and failed) playing a character who was deceitful and chilly. I wasn't necessarily up for seeing it again, but our friend Patrick saw this production in London and raved about it. We got cheap tickets, and we went. We're so glad we did.
The leads were played by Janet McTeer and Liev Schreiber. Both were outstanding, but McTeer was astonishing. Such strength and ease, such power and delicacy, she was a wonder. There were doubts about Schreiber doing this - - I read an interview with him where he said that he was interested in the challenge of doing a period piece that was so contained. He did a great job, he had a lovely facility with the language and elegant deportment.
It was directed by Josie Rourke, who gave the show the breezy and brittle tone of a Noel Coward play. The perfect choice. She amped up the comedy so the drama had more impact. Two weak links: the teenage girl was too giddy and overwrought, she was annoying. And I didn't like the musical interludes, with the servants and Madame de Rosemonde singing. Is this a play or a musical? I thought that was a little precious.