Les Liaisons dangereuses

Adapted from the French by Christopher Hampton.

Two cynical aristocrats are locked in a game of bluff and seduction: defeat would be intolerable, both are playing to win.

From The Stage, September 24, 1998 by Moira Petty

A revelation in the gloom

The same weekend saw another extraordinary production, Christopher Hampton's stage classic Les Liaisons Dangereuses (BBC World Service, from Saturday, September 12) slipped seductively on to radio in a version directed and adapted by Gordon House.

Lindsay Duncan, whose evocative voice makes her as much in demand for radio drama as for other media, here reprised her Royal Shakespeare Company role as the arch and amoral Marquise de Merteuil. While proud to admit that her chief motive was cruelty, the Marquise was fleshed out by Duncan as much more than a predatory vixen of late 18th century French salon society. Her performance was cruel withour being thin; there was a full and juicy relish as she conspired to draw the innocent and noble into her web.

Ciarán Hinds starred opposite her as her former lover and partner in crime. Hinds' ability to put a laughing, persuasive spin on an acting style which inclines towards harshness is always surprising. Emma Fielding was pertinently ambiguous as the prim wife and object of much plotting, while Alison Pettitt was malleable as any 15-year-old just released from a convent education.

The witty machinations of Hampton's characters, culled from the novel by Choderlos de Laclos, were absorbing in a production that wa as lucid as it was entertaining.

Character: Valmont
Author: Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
Co-stars: Lindsay Duncan.
Date: 1998-09-20
Category: Radio drama

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