University Theatre will present Les Liaisons Dangereuses April 8-11 and 13-18 at 8 p.m. and April 18-19 at 2:30 p.m. in the Cellar Theatre of the Fine Arts Building. Tickets are $15 or $12 for students with valid ID.
“This is a wicked sexy story. People love it,” said George Contini, director of the production more commonly known as Dangerous Liaisons.
Based on Pierre de Laclos’ 1782 novel, Liaisons is set in the decadence of pre-Revolutionary France and follows the friendship of Madame de Merteuil and Vicomte de Valmont, two aristocrats who have turned seduction into a competitive art form. When real love enters the picture, however, their schemes to overcome or ruin virtue spin out of control, lending an ominous truth to Merteuil’s determination to “win or die.”
Legend has it that when the novel was first published, Marie Antoinette, queen of France, had a false book cover made so she could read Liaisons while pretending to study the Bible.
“Our goal is to bring out as much of the original novel as possible,” said dramaturg Ruth Crews, assistant director and MFA degree candidate. “It’s an epistolary novel, meaning it consists entirely of letters the characters write to each other. The reader’s perception of events is dependent on which character wrote the letter describing those events. In our production, we’re re-creating this emphasis on exhibitionism: the characters putting their private actions on display, voyeurism and the penetrating gaze of the audience.”
“Dangerous Liaisons unapologetically brings out the essential voyeurism of its audiences,” he said. “This production seeks to capitalize on the polarities of voyeurism and exhibitionism by drawing its inspiration from several historical perspectives and by re-directing the gaze of all those involved in its presentation-the actors, the characters and the debauchery’s most important accomplice: you, the audience.”
The production also draws from the story of Ourika, a black slave who arrived in 18th-century Paris and rose to a comfortable position in society only to discover that her status was an illusion and that her race prevented her from rising any higher.
This obscure tale adds another layer of complexity to Laclos’ psychologically gripping tale of power, betrayal and self-awareness, making the UGA production an entirely unique event.
The show is intended for mature audiences as it contains sexual content and nudity.
Tickets may be purchased at the University Theatre box office located downstairs in the Fine Arts Building from noon-5 p.m. weekdays or at the theater door beginning one hour prior to show time. Reservations may be made in advance by calling the University Theatre box office at (706) 542-2838.