Sex, intrigue and betrayal; no, not the average goings on of a West End rehearsal room, but the themes of Les Liaisons Dangereuses.
That said, rehearsal rooms are interesting places. New groups of people coming together for the first time, each in a heightened sense of nervousness, emotion and passion, being thrown into unusual situations and being asked to play. Who’s to say how different they actually are to the manipulative aristocrats of Choderlos de Laclos’ 1782 novel, the former lovers who compete in games of seduction and revenge.
Okay, chances are they’re very different. You’re more likely to get a group of actors playing games of trust than gambling with each other in wagers of the heart. Honest.
Certainly it appears that nothing untoward is happening in the Donmar’s rehearsal space. Dominic West, Janet McTerr and Una Stubbs certainly look cheerier than a French aristocrat who has just heard the guillotine’s rope has broken. It is just Elaine Cassidy, stepping into the role vacated by Downton’s Michelle Dockery, who is looking a little on the anxious side.
That, of course, is because she’s at the centre of West and McTeer’s manipulation… in the show, not in reality. Rehearsal rooms are lovely places, remember?