by Lorie Lewis Ham
If you are in the mood for an exciting tale of intrigue and revenge set in 18th century France, then rush on over to see Les Liaisons Dangereuses at 2nd Space in Fresno.
Les Liaisons Dangereuses is a tale of two wealthy, powerful and brilliantly manipulative ex-lovers who engage in amorous rivalries to exact revenge on their enemies, relieve their boredom — and perhaps win each other back. La Marquise de Merteuil, played wonderfully by local actress Haley White, summons her ex lover Le Vicomte de Valmont, played by the equally talented Terry Lewis, to her home with a scheme in mind. Valmont is a charming playboy and a scoundrel with a much deserved reputation with the ladies, a reputation he works hard to maintain and is very proud of (think Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother but in a ponytail and tights). Merteuil asks him to seduce an innocent young lady named Cecile to punish Cecile’s fiancé because of an insult he has dealt Merteuil. At first Valmont refuses, but ends up agreeing when he discovers an insulting letter about himself written by Cecile’s mother.
At the same time, Valmont is seducing an extremely virtuous and good married young woman named La Presidente de Tourvel, just for the sport of it. Merteuil taunts him saying he will never succeed and he wagers that if he does his prize will be her for the night.
The story is twisted and complicated, reminding one of a modern day soap opera filled with backstabbing and immoral characters, as well as incredibly innocent and naive ones who become the victims of their manipulators. And what would a soap opera be without sex and death! Add to that a sword fight, and you have a perfect evening at the theatre. Come on now, we all love a soap opera and this one has the added value of being set in France and being wonderfully acted. There are also some very sad and touching moments in this show, as well as some funny ones. And even some surprises.
The set for this show was lovely, the costumes and wigs were elegant and beautiful, and the acting was top notch. Terry Lewis and Haley White are two actors I’d go see in anything–so seeing them in a wonderfully done and interesting show is a bonus! Kaichen McRae also did a great job as Tourvel, Ariana Marmolejo was lovely as the innocent Cecile, Neil Cusick was perfectly naive and innocent as Cecile’s foolish young suitor, Heather Parish did a great job as Cecile’s stuffy and judgmental mother, and Tessa Cavalletto was perfect as Valmont’s aunt. Everyone in this show did a great job and major kudos to director Karan Johnson for bringing this all together.
So while you may not be able to pronounce the title, don’t even think about missing this splendid show! And just a note after hearing chatter before the show in the lobby–it is all in English 🙂
Les Liaisons Dangereuses plays at 2nd Space in Fresno through June 15. You can purchase tickets by calling 559-266-0660 or 800-371-4747 or by going to their website. You can also keep up on shows at 2nd Space on their KRL theatre event page.
Check out more local arts and entertainment articles in KRL’s A & E section.