There’s something captivating about Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’s epistolary novel from the late 18th century. Gender inequality, power play, envy and betrayal involve dynamics that have changed very little in the following century, as clearly highlighted by Sedos’ modern re-writing of Dangerous Liaisons. Leaving behind the ostentation of pre-revolution France, this adaptation transfers events to Hollywood – the modern capital of opulence and trend-setting lifestyles.
The action and all its characters are introduced by an ingenious pre-recorded clip. This is an issue of the TV tabloid show ‘All Access Hollywood’, which announces the upcoming film Daughters. The production stars the renowned lothario Valmont (Olivier Namet) and sees the indirect involvement of infamous producer Alec Merteuil (Peter Stonnell).
Before filming begins, the pair strike a wretched deal. The latter has to corrupt the reputation of young actor Cecile (Rachel Savage) who, at the same time, is entertaining a flirt with her colleague Danceny (Wing Ho Lin). Meanwhile, Valmont is also busy seducing Tourvel (Lisa Eastman), an activist feminist with strong morals, who initially rejects him before falling into his arms.
Love and death intertwine in this fresh dance adaptation, whose unfolding plot stays very much loyal to the original. Whilst individual performances are not always as polished as a professional production, SEDOS’ highly rated amateur company still delivers an experience that stands out for its innovative approach. In their hands, a timeless classic receives a timely overhaul, presented in a no-frills yet gripping piece.
Some might find controversial the choice to turn the countess Merteuil into a man. Intended to better fit the feminist agenda, this artistic liberty neglects the indisputable reality that, quite often, women are abused by other women, especially those in a position of subordination. Nevertheless, Stonnell is a charismatic Merteuil, who exudes confidence whilst scouring the room with his sleezy looks.
Overall, this dance adaptation of Choderlos de Laclos’s powerful drama is imaginative and thoroughly devised. This production definitely deserves to be taken further, with a slightly improved choreography and a longer run for more audiences to enjoy.
Original Author: Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
Devised, Directed and Choreographed by: Kimberly Barker and Tom Leonard
Produced by: SEDOS
Booking Link: https://sedos.co.uk/2019/dangerousliaisons.htm
Booking Until: 19 October 2019