Bridewell Theatre, London EC4 – until 19 October 2019
Reviewed by Antonia Hebbert
Power, seduction, corruption, betrayal … what’s not to like? The novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos was a scandalous success when it first appeared in 1782, and has had irresistible allure for 20th and 21st-century stage and screen directors. It’s been reincarnated as theatre, opera, ballet, television, and that starrily casted 1988 film with Glenn Close and John Malkovich, among others.
But this Sedos production, tucked away down a little lane off Fleet Street, can more than hold its own. It is a spellbinding 80 minutes that reworks the story into an exploitative Hollywood setting, and tells it in dance. The dancing is gorgeous, athletic and very expressive. The performance space is tiny, so you are up close and personal with the dancers/actors, and they absolutely carry you along with the story. There are short mock-television sequences at the start and finish, which are not very convincing but give a context. The aristocrats Valmont and the Marquise de Merteuil have become a Hollywood star (Olivier Namet) and a film director (Peter Stonnell). Rachel Savage is delicate and fragile as the innocent Cecile Volanges, and Lisa Eastman is very strong as the apparently more resilient Amanda Tourvel (these two are the chosen victims of the seduction game). Wing Ho Lin is tender as Volanges’ lover Danceny, and eight other actors/dancers (sorry, too many to list – they are all really good) appear as a Hollywood crowd of production crew, partygoers or whatever is needed, in ingenious group numbers that are fast, fun and full of character.
The directors/choreographers are Kimberly Barker and Tom Leonard, and the soundscape is by Adam Coppard. The set is moodily lit all-white, with four different entrances, including a staircase and an oddly eerie sliding door – simple but effective.
Sedos is an amateur company, but there is nothing amateurish about this show – it’s ambitious, clever and exciting, but also beautifully economical and precise.