Reviewed by Paula Citron
The Stratford production of Christopher Hampton’s Dangerous Liaisons may not be perfect in terms of performance, but director Ethan McSweeny and designer Santo Loquasto have pulled off a stunner.
Set just before the French Revolution, the plot is a sordid tale about the nobility’s dangerous games of love, and McSweeny makes that decadence a strong subtext.
The excellent Tom McCamus was born to play Valmont, giving the role just the right amount of pride, vanity, and irony, while Seana McKenna is brilliant as the devious and conniving Merteuil. Their narcissistic relationship defines the play.
Also very good is young Bethany Jillard as Cécile who grows from virgin to courtesan in realistic fashion. Martha Henry shines as the sympathetic and wise Mme de Rosemonde.
Less sterling is quiet voiced Sara Topham as Tourvel, the too restrained Yanna McIntosh as Mme de Volanges, and the miscast Michael Therriault who fails to bring life to the callow Danceny.
Nonetheless, Dangerous Liaisons is not to be missed.
Stratford Shakespeare Festival
Written by Christopher Hampton (based on the novel by Choderlos de Laclos)
Directed by Ethan McSweeny
Featuring Seana McKenna, Tom McCamus, Sara Topham, Yanna McIntosh, Bethany Jillard, Martha Henry and Michael Therriault
Festival Theatre, Aug. 3 to 12, 2010