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Les Liaisons Dangereuses

Published 18 December 2015

What’s it all about?

The Donmar Warehouse is bringing sexy back with erotic awakenings, seduction aplenty and the kind of sexual liberation you might think is more suited to 1970s free love than 18th century French aristocratic society. With this many corsets, illicit affairs and wicked treachery, it can only be Les Liaisons Dangereuses, and we’ve got news for you, if you’ve ever had impure thoughts about Dominic West, it’s likely off to a nunnery for you…

The Affair star is back on the stage leading Christopher Hampton’s sizzling adaptation of Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’ classic novel as Vicomte de Valmont alongside the magnificent Janet McTeer as Marquise de Merteuil, both his confident and rival in the art of seduction.

If you thought Neil Strauss was the ultimate despicable game player, you’ve seen nothing yet.

Who’s in it?

According to the story, women are obliged to be far more skilful than men. Obviously the art of theatre has a more welcome 21st century approach to gender politics, but the women in this cast do have skills indeed. McTeer is scene stealing as the ice queen Merteuil who only melts when the bedroom calls. With compelling gravitas, she balances steely decorum as a woman never anything less than 100% in control with a deliciously wicked and witty zeal for mischief. On the other side of the morality camp is the superb Elaine Cassidy as the buttoned-up Madame de Tourvel, while Morfydd Clark cements her rising star status as a girl caught somewhere in the middle and in danger of corruption.

Of course, it’s hard to keep your place in the morality club in the presence of Choderlos de Laclos’ devilish Vicomte de Valmont and West does the literary fiend absolute justice, both suitably sexy with just a touch of creepiness and rage.

What should I look out for?

Tom Scutt’s opulent set. This play demands luxury and Josie Rourke’s production delivers with a feast for the senses, from the dramatic operatic scene changes to the wax-dripping candle chandeliers hovering above.

A new clothing-optional way to write letters that negates the need for a desk.

In a nutshell?

Dominic West and Janet McTeer are bringing sexy back to the West End in Josie Rourke’s rich, witty and deliciously opulent production.

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Will I like it?

Rourke’s production is sexy while never falling into romp territory, opulent without losing edge and offers a refreshingly equal exploration of sexuality from both genders’ perspective with a pretty much flawless cast. We couldn’t imagine a better way for the Donmar to see out another spectacular year.

Les Liaisons Dangereuses is playing until 13 February. Tickets are limited and on sale through the Donmar Warehouse website. The show will also be broadcast live in cinemas around the world on 28 January as part of NT Live.

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