A few centuries before “Gossip Girl” and “The Hills” glamorized betrayal, lust and coldheartedness, French author Pierre Chroderlos de Laclos published “Les Liaisons Dangereuses,” a searing novel about aristocratic excess. And a few decades ago, playwright Christopher Hampton adapted that novel into an award-winning play and screenplay. Today, Remy Bumppo’s revival of Hampton’s adaptation is as licentious and biting as ever.
Throughout the well-acted production, Mme de Merteuil (the deliciously salacious Rebecca Spence) and Le Vicomte de Valmont (the superbly smooth Nick Sandys) conspire constantly. Whether seeking revenge on a frenemy or merely attempting to advance their own conquests, Spence and Sandys portray equal parts self-loathing, melancholic ennui and a grudging admiration for each other’s moral corruption with a haughty sense of refined ease.
Though one crucial scene feels a bit rushed, director David Darlow has carefully staged this show to allow his actors, and the excellent script, maximum impact, with a few surprisingly bold choices. From bedroom to bedroom—and ultimately to a terrific sword fight—“Les Liaisons Dangereuses” delivers divine depravity and memorable one-liners with the cruelest of intentions. (Zach Freeman)
At Remy Bumppo Theatre, Upstairs Mainstage, Greenhouse Theater, 2257 North Lincoln, (773)404-7336, through May 2.