The Creighton University Department of Fine and Performing Arts Theatre Company delivered its opening performance of Christopher Hampton’s revival “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” on Wednesday at the Lied Center Mainstage.
The cunning plot, which is set in pre-revolutionary France during the late 18th century, is driven by the complicated relationship between the Vicomte de Valmont and the Marquise de Merteuil as they engage in cruel sexual politics. The actors and directors agree the sexual tension and dangerous game of love make this production thrilling.
“It’s full of sexual tension and devious undertones and ends with a bit of a twist,” Kathleen Franco, Arts & Sciences sophomore and actor in the play, said. “It’s a highly dramatic 18th century French story – perfect piece of theater for the mind to chew on.”
The play is based on the French epistolary novel by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos. The Creighton production is directed by local Omaha director and performer Moira Mangiameli, who recently received an Omaha Entertainment and Arts Award for Best Actress for her role in “The Goat.” Mallory Freilich is the assistant director. The play stars J.P. Rankin as Le Vicomte de Valmont and Kylee White as Marquise de Merteuil.
“Working on a period piece is always challenging because actors need to embrace the style and mannerisms of another century,” Mangiameli said. “The play is also very emotionally volatile, which can sometimes be difficult for young actors.”
“Les Liaisons Dangereuses” is unique in that it is almost entirely grounded in letters written by the different characters to one another. It is rumored to reflect the immorality and outrageous decadence of the French aristocracy during this time period.
“I love the duplicity of the characters that results in tense and passion-filled scenes,” Seale added.
The elaborate era-appropriate costumes and set, designed under the guidance of Lindsay Pape and Bill Van Deest, also contribute to the extravagance and outlandish immorality suggested by the script.
“The set is one of the best we have seen at Creighton in the years I’ve been here, and the costumes are historically accurate and beautiful, being set in the 1780s,” Freilich said.
Beneath the insatiable lust and irresistible scandal lurking behind every twist and turn of this play is a deeper conviction about the darker side of human nature.
Above all, however, Mangiameli hopes audiences will enjoy the emotional swings and wickedly clever scheming of this rather complex tale of deceit and greed.
“I hope the audience is entertained, moved, aroused and maybe a little frightened at times,” Mangiameli said. “I don’t ask much, do I?”
“Les Liaisons Dangereuses” is playing Feb. 24- 27 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 28 at 2 p.m. at the Lied Center Mainstage. Tickets are available at the box office, online at boxoffice.creighton.edu or by calling (402)280-1448. Ticket prices are $10 for general admission and $5 for students.