Les Liaisons Dangereuses

Previewed 4 December 2003, Opened 12 December 2003, Closed 10 January 2004 at the Playhouse Theatre in London

A major revival of Christopher Hampton's stage adaptation of Choderlos de Laclos' Les Liaisons Dangereuses in London starring Jared Harris, Polly Walker and Emilia Fox and directed by Tim Fywell.

Set in 18th-century Paris, Les Liaisons Dangereuses tells the tragic tale of seduction and deceit that follows the cruel social games played by Marquise de Merteuil and her former lover Vicomte Valmont as their aristocratic world slowly falls apart.

The cast for Les Liaisons Dangereuses in London stars Jared Harris as 'Vicomte de Valmont', Polly Walker as the 'Marquise de Merteuil' and Emilia Fox as the 'Presidente de Tourvel' along with Dilys Laye as 'Madame de Rosemonde', Sarah Woodward as 'Madame de Volanges', Jeremy Edwards, Laurence Penry-Jones, Olivia Llewellyn, Jayne Ashbourne and Sean Oliver. Directed by Tim Fywell with movement by Jane Gibson, designs by Robert Innes-Hopkins, lighting by Peter Mumford, music by John Lunn and sound by John Leonard.

The original 1986 London stage production was presented at Ambassadors Theatre by the Royal Shakespeare Company starring Alan Rickman, Lindsay Duncan and Juliet Stevenson directed by Howard Davies. A film version directed by Stephen Frears and starring Glenn Close, John Malkovich and Michelle Pfeiffer along with Keanu Reeves and Uma Thurman was released in 1988 and won three Oscars includng for 'Best Writing' for Christopher Hampton.

"The partners in crime are Jared Harris (son of Richard) as Le Vicomte de Valmont, and Polly Walker as La Marquise de Merteuil; both of them sorely lacking the right sense of poise, style or danger. It's a tribute to the script that the destruction of the excellent Emilia Fox's virginal victim chills the marrow all the same. But at no point does this staging generate any period flavour or convince us that these people are from the upper echelons of the French aristocracy. For all the chandeliers and servants, it's a bit like watching EastEnders in fancy dress." The Daily Express

"Christopher Hampton brilliantly adapted Laclos's epistolary novel back in 1985... the lust and treachery rustling beneath the silk gowns in the elegant salons of 18th Century aristocrats proved a scorching hit and it ran for more than five years in the West End, prompting the Oscar-winning movie version with John Malkovich, Glenn Close and Michelle Pfeiffer. A halting, lacklustre new production at the Playhouse does nothing to shift the shadow cast by such gleaming successes. Tim Fywell returns to the stage to direct after a decade concentrating on television (and the movie I Capture The Castle) and while no one falls off the stage and there's very little furniture to walk into on the clinical set, he makes some pretty basic mistakes. Hampton's writing requires sophisticated stylised acting, not the sort of slapdash realism you see on TV most nights... For the most part, alas, Hampton's scintillating play falls absolutely flat, as disappointing as last night's tepid leftover champagne." The Mail on Sunday

"Christopher Hampton's adaptation of Les Liaisons Dangereuses may not have the full distinction of the Choderlos de Laclos novel but it is a terrific piece of theatre. The new revival at the Playhouse is a disappointment, however. It lacks the corrosive quality and the cold intelligence needed if the work is to be more than just another tale of aristocratic sexual intrigue. This is not to say that the director, Tim Fywell, and his cast don't have a decent stab at getting things right. You are reasonably diverted; there is a certain fascination in watching the cruel unfolding of the plot. But you don't get nearly enough sense of the action's social and intellectual underpinnings." The Sunday Telegraph

Les Liaisons Dangereuses in London at the Playhouse Theatre previewed from 4 December 2003, opened on 12 December 2003 and closed on 10 January 2004. The production had been booking up to 27 March 2004, but closed early.