Deliciously naughty

Les Liaisons Dangereuses

Jason Kuykendall to Stephanie Gularte in <span style="">Les Liaisons Dangereuses</span>: “Don’t hate the playa. Hate the game.”

Jason Kuykendall to Stephanie Gularte in Les Liaisons Dangereuses: “Don’t hate the playa. Hate the game.”

Rated 5.0

It takes a slightly depraved mind to schedule the opening of Les Liaisons Dangereuses during Valentine’s week. That’s apropos, since depraved minds are celebrated in this wickedly witty and lascivious look into the demented sexual parlor games of 18th century French aristocracy.

Les Liaisons Dangereuses was written by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos in 1782, right before the French Revolution, and enjoyed a comeback when playwright Christopher Hampton adapted the novel for the stage (and then the screen) as Dangerous Liaisons. Now, Capital Stage unveils this delicious tale of debauchery, lust, treachery and revenge—all shrouded under the deceptive cloak of romance and love.

The two main characters, La Marquise de Merteuil (Janis Stevens) and Le Vicomte de Valmont (Jason Kuykendall) are bored nobility who spar by using seduction as sport. These two major players dare each other in sexual conquests, with a decree that real emotions are against the rules and true love is a deal breaker.

For this production, Capital Stage has gathered a stellar cast, director and crew, some of the cream of the local theater crop. Stevens is sublime as the truly twisted Marquise, and her terse glances speak with as much volume as her spiteful speeches. Kuykendall is suave and seductive, with so much appeal that even though the audience knows he’s manipulative, they get seduced right along with the Vicomte’s hapless victims. Stephanie Gularte is the epitome of grace and modesty as the mistress of morals. Other notable performances include Michelle Murphy as young, innocent Cécile; Gail Dartez as her mother, Mme. De Volanges; and Vada Russell as Mme. De Rosemonde.

The production glows not only with memorable performances, but also in the handsome French salon sets by Jonathan Rhys Williams and the gorgeous period costumes and hair designs by Gail Russell and Beverly Neeland. It’s a visual treat with the warm subdued colors of the rooms and the rich hues of the women’s magnificent dresses and the men’s striking attire. The overall appearance of this production alone is worth a trip.

As we were cautioned before entering the theater, this show contains brief nudity. However, it’s only the actresses in the sex scenes who briefly appear au naturel. The actor, modestly and most absurdly, is clad in knickers. We say, if you’re going to depict lust by baring buns, then it should be bared buns for everyone—actors and actresses alike! La Marquise and Le Vicomte most certainly would agree.