June 8, 2012
Last night I braved the wind and the cold and went to The Wharf Theatre to see the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses. It was brilliantly entertaining.
“Wickedly funny” is a term that’s become a bit of a cliché, however, Les Liaisons Dangereuses is, truly, wickedly funny. The story centres on the sexual conquests and emotional manipulations of two French aristocrats the Vicomte de Valmont (Hugo Weaving) and the Marquise de Merteuil (Pamela Rabe) in pre-Revolution Paris. These two are a truly wicked pair plotting and competing with one another to seduce the innocent, the virtuous and the married. They care little, if at all, for the emotional consequences of their exploits and, were the script not so bitingly witty and the performances of the two leads so perfectly executed, the show could easily be too nasty to be enjoyable.
Hugo Weaving and Geraldine Hakewill in Sydney Theatre Company’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Picture: Brett Boardman Source: The Daily Telegraph
This is a slick, cleverly conceived production from Simon Stone, a director at the top of his game. The set, a grand Parisian, sitting room, is simple, elegant and surprisingly adaptable. All the action takes place in various characters’ homes and a pair of double doors at the back of the stage are opened and closed in different combinations to indicate new locations. The costumes reference the 1930s upper-class, they’re more Gatsby than Marie Antoinette, but don’t look at all out of place in the 17th century decor and give the show an appropriate timeless and a surprisingly contemporary connection. The design thankfully is relatively simple and unobtrusive and allows Weaving, Rabe and their fellow cast members to be the centre of attention.
It is a rare pleasure to watch two actors as skilled and experienced as Hugo Weaving and Pamela Rabe perform in the same show. They bring energy, honesty and power to their respective performances and the malice, humour, playfulness and sexiness with which they battle each other and conquer those around them is incredible to watch. They are amply supported by the other cast members, in particular Justine Clarke, but the show truly belongs to them.
This is world-class theatre and it’s fantastic to see it on a Sydney stage.