Saturday, August 27, 2016

August 27. Day 240. Les Liaisons Dangereuses

John Warner as Le Vicomte de Valmont
Fiona Kennedy as  La Marquise de Merteuil
 Every generation seems to think that they invented the sexual revolution. Young people think those who went before are old fuddy duddies. And the old fuddy duddies allow the belief to prosper by seeing the young as wild and promiscuous. How quickly we forget. Let me take you back to 1782 (no, I wasn't alive then although I'm sure many of my students would find it hard to believe). But that was the year Pierre Choderlos de Laclos wrote Les Liaisons Dangereuses a positively scandalous novel written entirely in letter form. Even today the antics of those wild French aristocrats would make the nude selfie-sending teenagers blush. In fact my jaw may have dropped just a little as I sat in the audience of Villanova Players' stage adaptation this afternoon.  This is a wickedly funny tale of revenge, betrayal and manipulation as well as many, many dangerous liaisons. The performances were as captivating as the characters were conniving. And that was only round one. But a few hours later on the other side of town I was transported to 1926. This time it was Growl Theatre's production of  The Constant Wife written by W Somerset Maugham. Once again the tale is about duplicitous dealings, infidelity and the battle of the sexes. It raises interesting questions about love, lust and the manoeuvres of marriage. I may have snorted just a little when the lead character Constance Middleton delivered the classic line about modern wives being parasites "a prostitute who doesn't deliver the goods". Lordy. And we think we live in enlightened times. Okay, this may not exactly be a history lesson but we can learn a lot about a time from the works created by the greater writers of the period. And actors allow the audience to be a fly on the wall. There are far, far worse ways to invest a few hours on the weekend. I for one highly recommend it.
The Constant Wife is on at the Windsor School of Arts Hall until September 3.
Les Liaisons Dangerueses is on at the Yeronga State High School Hall until September 11.

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