Les Liaisons Dangereuses revolves around a group of aristocrats in pre-Revolutionary France. In a world where reputation is everything, the Vicomte de Valmont (Penry-Jones) and the Marquise de Merteuil (Kirwan) set out to play a series of deadly games in the drawing rooms and bedrooms of high society, destroying with relish the lives and reputations of those around them.
Based on the 1782 novel by Choderlos de Laclos, Christopher Hampton's stage play premiered at the RSC in 1985 in a production, starring Alan Rickman and Lindsay Duncan, that transferred to Broadway and won numerous awards including the Olivier for Best New Play. In 1988, it was famously made into a Hollywood film with John Malkovich and Glenn Close in the leads and Michelle Pfeiffer playing Valmont's virtuous conquest Madame de Tourvel.
Kirwan is best known for her television roles in Ballykissangel and Hearts and Bones, while her other stage credits, in the UK and her native Ireland, include Hush, The Wexford Trilogy, A Handful of Stars and Fathers and Sons. Penry-Jones' many stage credits include Chips with Everything, The Play about the Baby, while on screen, he's recently been seen in Charlotte Gray, Still Crazy, Hilary and Jackie, Cold Comfort Farm and Black Beauty.
Acclaimed for his acting roles on stage and screen, West assumes the director’s mantle for the third time with Les Liaisons Dangereuses, following productions of The Lady’s Not for Burning at Chichester and another Hamlet for the RSC Fringe. The cast for this new production also includes Emma Cunniffe and Avril Elgar.
Current Bristol Old Vic artistic director Gareth Machin departs after five years, with his final production, a revival of Harold Pinter's Betrayal finishing on 1 March. Of the new artistic team, David Farr is a playwright and director whose works include The Danny Crowe Show, Elton John's Glasses and Night of the Soul; dramaturg Simon Reade is a former literary manager of the Bush and the RSC who recently co-adapted Salman Rushdie's novel Midnight's Children.
Following Les Liaisons Dangereuses, the new leadership's inaugural season at Bristol continues in the main house with Farr's new dramatisation of Dickens' Great Expectations, directed by Gordon Anderson and running 10 April to 3 May, followed by A Midsummer Night's Dream, directed by Farr, from 8 May to 7 June. Coming up in the Studio are Farr's new play The Queen Must Die and Reade's adaptation of Jill Tomlinson's 1968 children's novella The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark.
- by Terri Paddock