Donmar Warehouse Production of Christopher Hampton Play
This past week, Les Liaisons Dangereuses
had its official opening night at the Booth Theatre. It had been running in previews since October 8, 2016, and the play is scheduled to run for a limited engagement until January 22, 2017. This is now the third time that this play has been on Broadway. The first time was in 1987, when Christopher Hampton had first completed his adaptation of the novel by Choderlos de Laclos. Millennial audiences may be most familiar with this work in another adapted form, the film Cruel Intentions
starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, Reese Witherspoon, Selma Blair, and Ryan Phillippe. However, this story predates the contemporary era, and the stories of sex, lies, deception, and scheming are as old as time. This play is directed by Josie Rourke, the artistic director of London’s Donmar Warehouse, where this production originated. Its last revival was in 2006 by Roundabout Theatre Company at the American Airlines Theatre. This production stars Janet McTeer and Liev Schreiber as two plotting lovers who also sleep with others, including parts played by Elena Kampouris and Ora Jones.
Panned by the New York Times, but Loved by Others
Upon the opening night, Ben Brantley of The New York Times began his review by complimenting the acting chops of Janet McTeer and Liev Schreiber, but concluded that the present social awareness of issues regarding sexual consent makes the scenes about taking sexual advantage less humorous, which is why the play isn’t ultimately successful. Jeremy Gerard from Deadline agreed that the show left something to be desired, deeming it to have a soap opera atmosphere and to be a strange mix between period melodrama and modern day moral commentary. However, other critics were more positive in their response. David Cote from Time Out New York called the revival ghostly and sensuous, complimenting Josie Rourke’s pacing and direction as well as the performances. David Rooney from The Hollywood Reporter enjoyed the delicious amorality of the piece, believing the rendition to be a successful depiction of dissolute aristocracy at the end of its reign. Furthermore, Mark Kennedy from the Associated Press enjoyed the take-no-prisoners battle that is Les Liaisons Dangereuses
, as well as the slow self-destruction that these lovers inflict on themselves.
A Decrease in Sales Heading to Opening Night
In the last week of reported box office figures, the week ending October 30, 2016, Les Liaisons Dangereuses
brought in $575,551 over eight performances, which is a decrease of $127,441 from the week before. With a top ticket price of $248.00, the average paid admission was $101.67, and the audience was filled up to 91.0%. This gross represented 67.56% of the show’s gross potential that week. However, over the course of the run thus far, the show has brought in an average of 81.79% of its gross potential. It is unclear whether this past week is representative of a downward slide for the box office for this show, or whether the week leading up to opening night was merely less lucrative due to the slew of complimentary tickets given out to press to review the show on press previews. Nevertheless, these figures do not yet represent the response to the mixed reviews, which may give the show a boost due to the added exposure alone, or may not help at all due to the negative reviews from The New York Times and Deadline.