By Andrew Venning
Sadly the matinee that I attended was the afternoon that only hours previously the news of Alan Rickman’s death had been released. This play, that made him famous, is still incredibly potent when it comes to the question of how we use and misuse sex in our sexual liaisons. Dominic West plays Valmont with a methodical sense of a constant need to seduce an ever greater prize. We love his sardonic wit and his openeness with his arrogance and assurance with his abilities to seduce whom so ever he pleases, yet this hits home when he essentially assaults a young girl and or feelings of him become skewed. (And they change back again when the denouement powers ahead towards it’s intense climax). Christopher Hampton’s play carries along the action swiftly and yet still feels steeped in the mellow France of Pierre Choderlos de Laclos ‘s original 1782 novel. Valmont was the role that made Alan Rickman huge on stage prior to the famous film of 1989.
Janet McTeer as Madme de Tourvel was utterly sensual yet also deeply vindictive, sweet and sour, she prowled around West and purred at him dropping her voice from a soprano pitch down to a deep breathy seduction.
The end was a tad lacking in energy and stakes but the show as a whole was a winner all round. During the curtain call McTeer looked sullen and she stopped the applause to make an announcement about the passing of Alan Rickman and she was clearly very moved about his loss and her tribute to him having made his name in this play was incredibly touching.
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