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Box Theatre Company - Les Liaisons Dangereuses

30th May to 2nd June 2001.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Menu for seduction

'LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES', performed by The Box Theatre Company, at New Greenham Arts, from Wednesday, May 30 to Saturday, June 2

If you strip two vengeful and manipulative aristocrats of their powdered and beauty spots. transport them forward through time by 200 years, win the end result be little more than a high camp romp in and out of my lady's chambers? Possibly. But if you were part of the cast of the Box Theatre's production of 'Les Liaisons Dangereuses' then the answer is a resounding 'No!'.

Director Duncan Mack took Christopher Hampton's adaptation, set it in the 'nearly-now' and successfully challenged his actors to create intimate theatre in a barn-like auditorium. In pursuit of this nothing was forgotten. Scene changes, lighting and sound, so often allowed to become afterthoughts became an integral part of the action, ensuring that the fires once stoked upon the tiny stage, never failed to flare.

Key to the success were Tracey Donnelly (La Marquise) and Balakrishna McAlinn (De Valmont), the arch seducers radiating love and lust in great sparks while at the same time showing the audience how narrow the boundary is between both. With each actor living 'the lines beneath the lines', they were at once cunning and manipulative, dangerously androgynous predators who, to satisfy their gnawing hunger, turned love to hate, good to evil and the stoutest moral convictions to dust.

Sanna Nobbs (Madame De Tourvel) contrasted both with a physically searing portrayal of a woman whose core values are challenged and subverted, only to he destroyed by the very virtues that had turned her into the human entree of this dubious lovers' banquet

Providing light snacks along the way were Chrissie Flitter (Madame De Volanges), as inoffensive as a soufflé and Louise-Marie Morris (Cecille De Volanges), lifting her role beyond innocent syrup into the realms of the deliciously naive. Adelina Miller gave us two portions of delightfully contrasting flavour (Mine De Rosemonde and Emillie), while Rhys Swinburn (Danceny) and Duncan Mack (Azolan) skillfully provided the seasoning with their own well-drawn characters.

Rich victuals? I'll say. Saturated fats. Additives. The lot. All incredibly bad for you. But you beg them for more.