"Les Liaisons Dangereuses" Review-National Theatre Live at Northwestern

The Virginia Wadsworth Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts, 10 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston, is hosting “National Theatre Live At The Wirtz Center",  a fabulous series, where you can enjoy the best in British theatre filmed live on stage.

Janet McTeer as La Marquise de Merteuil

Last Tuesday night, March 1, 2016, Donmar Warehouse’s highly anticipated new production of “Les Liasons Dangereuses” was broadcast live from London. Directed by Josie Rourke, (Coriolanus), the terrific cast of the 4 hour production included Dominic West (The Wire), Janet McTeer (The White Queen), and Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey).

 Les Liasons Dangereuses is an epistolary novel -it is composed entirely of letters written by the various characters to each other. Penned by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos in 1782, it was first published in four volumes in 1782. The novel, credited with being the source of the famous quote, “Revenge is a dish best eaten cold”, which doesn’t actually appear anywhere in its text, is supposed to depict the decadence of the French aristocracy immediately prior to the French Revolution, and has also been called an amoral novel.

Dominic West as Le Vicomte de Valmont

It is the story of two former lovers and current rivals, the Vicomte de Valmont and the Marquise de Merteuil, whose letters drive the plot. These two use seduction as a weapon to degrade and humiliate others, and brag to each other about their cruelty.There have been many adaptations throughout time, including stage plays, a ballet and the famous film starring Uma Thurman and Chicago’s own John Malkovich, but this new version is truly exceptional.

Jennifer Saying as Emilie

Britain’s papers gave the production rave reviews when it opened last December.  The Daily Telegraph referred to the production as “Theatre at its most seductive”. The Evening Standard called it “Heady and intoxicating…a brilliantly revived adaptation”. The Guardian commented, “An evening to richly savor”. The Sunday Times printed, “Director Josie Rourke has given us a Les Liasons Dangereuses to relish”, and The Times noted “Janet McTeer is absolutely magnificent”.Time Out mentioned, “Dominic West is great as Valmont, a booming lusty bounder. Janet McTeer is sensational as Merteueil”.

Edward Holcroft as Le Chevalier Danceny

Three more wonderful screenings are coming up at The Wirtz Center this spring:

-On Tuesday, March 29, at 7PM, “As You Like It’, William Shakespeare’s beloved pastoral comedy comes to the National Theatre for the first time in over 30 years. Starring Rosalie Craig (London Road) as the hero Rosalind, the play follows her to the Forest of Arden where she flees persecution from her uncle’s court. Accompanied by her cousin, Celia, she encounters a variety of memorable characters and finds safety and ultimately love.

-From April 22 through May 1, Shakespeare’s last play,  “The Tempest”, produced in cooperation with The Actors Gymnasium and starring David Catlin as Prospero, with a 9 actor ensemble will be performed. Set on a remote island, the rightful Duke of Milan, who is also the sorcerer Prospero plots to restore his daughter Miranda to her ancestral position by manipulation and skillful illusion. In this version, using movement and original music, the island lives and breathes.

-On May 17, at 7PM, the National Theatre Live production of “The Hangmen”, by Martin McDonagh will be shown following a sold-out run at the Royal Court Theater in London. Directed by Matthew Dunster, the play introduces us to Harry, a local celebrity at his small neighborhood pub. But, what will Harry,  the  second-best hangmen in Britain do when hanging is abolished? Watch and see!

Elaine Cassidy as Madame de Tourvel


For tickets to these and other great events at Northwestern, contact The Wirtz Center, Northwestern


Photos courtesy of John Persson

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