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Les Liaisons Dangereuses

Two of the most gleefully malevolent characters ever created bring their decadent ways to Palm Beach Dramaworks in Les Liaisons Dangereuses, opening on January 30th at the Don & Ann Brown Theatre. Written by Christopher Hampton, from the novel by Choderlos de Laclos, this compelling, wickedly clever tale of seduction, gamesmanship, debauchery, and degradation runs through March 1, with specially priced previews on January 28 and 29, 2015. 

Les Liaisons Dangereuses, which takes place just a few years before the French Revolution and is set in various locations in and around Paris, follows the intrigues and machinations of the Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont. These ex-lovers are bored aristocrats who eagerly shatter lives for their own cruel amusement. They use the boudoir as a battleground; their end game is conquest and humiliation. 

When Laclos’s epistolary novel was published in 1782, one critic called it “a tissue of horrors and infamies.” Another critic wrote, “However poor an opinion you might have of society in general and of Parisian society in particular, I do not think it possible for a young person of the fair sex to encounter any connections as dangerous as a perusal of Les Liaisons Dangereuses.” The French couldn’t wait to get their hands on it; the first run of 2000 copies sold out in a matter of weeks. 

Les Liaisons Dangereuses was first produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon in September, 1985, and transferred to the Barbican in London in January, 1986. The RSC brought that production to Broadway in April, 1987, retaining the two leads, Lindsay Duncan and Alan Rickman.  PBD’s production is directed by Lynnette Barkley, and stars Kate Hampton as Merteiul and Jim Ballard as Valmont. Also featured are Maribeth Graham, Kelly Gibson, Katie Fabel, Harriet Oser, Brian William Sheppard, Nanique Gheridian, Tangi Colombel, Clay Cartland, Ashley Bourget, and Nicholas Arenstein. Scenic design is by Victor Becker, costume design is by Brian O’Keefe, lighting design is by Jerold R. Forsyth and sound design is by Steve Shapiro. 

Christopher Hampton is a British playwright, screenwriter, librettist, director, and translator, who won the 1986 Olivier Award for Best New Play for Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Other plays include The Talking Cure, White Chameleon, Tales From Hollywood, Treats, Savages, The Philanthropist, Atonement, and Total Eclipse. He co-wrote the book and lyrics for the musical Sunset Boulevard, winning Tony Awards in both categories. He also wrote the book and lyrics for Dracula, and the librettos for the Philip Glass operas Waiting for the Barbarians, Appomattox, and The Trial. Hampton’s screenplay for Dangerous Liaisons earned him an Oscar. Other screenplays include The Quiet American, Mary Reilly, and Total Eclipse. Hampton was 18 when his first play, When Did You Last See My Mother?. premiered in London in 1964, making him to this day the youngest playwright to have a play produced in the West End. 

The performance schedule for Les Liaisons Dangereuses is as follows: Evening performances are Wednesday through Saturday at 8PM, and select Sundays at 7PM. Matinee performances are on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday at 2PM. Wednesday matinees and Sunday evenings include a post-performance discussion. Individual tickets are $62, with specially priced preview tickets at $55 and Opening Night tickets at $77. Student tickets are available for $10; tickets for educators are half price with proper ID (other restrictions apply). Group rates for 20 or more and discounted season subscriptions are also available. 

Palm Beach Dramaworks is a non-profit, professional theatre and is a member of the Theatre Communications Group, the South Florida Theatre League, Florida Professional Theatres Association, and the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County. The Don & Ann Brown Theatre is located in the heart of downtown West Palm Beach, at 201 Clematis Street. For ticket information contact the box office at (561) 514-4042, or visit