Monthly Archives: April 2012

The Latest Liaisons Reviews; A Few More STC Photo Session Pics

Note: This is an archived entry that’s over two years old. While I have ensured that all photos are restored, some links may no longer work. If you encounter any dead links, let me know and I’ll try to find a copy of the material.

Here are excerpts from and links to the latest round of reviews for Sydney Theatre Company’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses, starring Hugo Weaving, Pamela Rabe and Justine Clarke. Though the “professional critics” generally saw the production during its first week, interesting insights continue to pour in from bloggers, journalists and theatre fans. The vast majority of reviews (including all I’ve seen this week) continue to be very positive.

I’m also sharing a few new photos from a recent session Hugo did for photographer Jane Dempster; a few of these appeared with The Australian‘s profile and interview last month, but as usual many more images were taken and not published; arguably some of these are as good or better than those that made the cut. Unfortunately, I’ve only found heavily watermarked copies thusfar… I was able to painstakingly clean a couple of them before my computer died last week, but since then I’ve been unable to access the others, and some had Hugo’s entire face obscured, so I couldn’t do very much with them. But I hope to share at least a few more at the beginning of next month when my computer is (I hope) back in service. Meanwhile I hope you enjoy these. I know they’re not ideal, but shouldn’t be hidden in some press archive.

I should also note that I’ll be away for the next eight days or so, probably with minimal internet access of any kind; I promise to compile any breaking Hugo News and post it here once I return. The Helen Hayes Awards will be announced Monday evening (in Washington DC); Hugo was nominated along with his Uncle Vanya castmates Cate Blanchett, Hayley McElhinney and Richard Roxburgh for performances in a “non-resident production”– here’s hoping for multiple wins.

Photo: Jane Dempster

Gay News Network: “…make no mistake: this is an intensely interesting production. This cast is a cracker. Pamela Rabe and Hugo Weaving are beautifully matched opponents. I felt watching Rabe I might be watching the Merteuil of a lifetime. She is always intriguing and never comes close to sentimentalising this fine-minded, manipulative sexual predator. And Weaving as Valmont proves to be virtuoso of persuasion.”

Silent Champagne: “…I just found it simply riveting to watch how Pamala lying down on the sofa, softly caressing around Hugo’s arms and the gental-kind-remorseful-fervent-mixed loving look they shared. Pamela Rabe is the perfect actor for role of Merteuil, I have to admit, although I could keep seeing Cate Blanchett’s double illusion before my eyes…
If I could describe the play in 3 words, it should be: BEAUTIFUL, SERENE and WOEFUL…I’m seduced”

Photo: Jane Dempster

House of Paradox: “” LEFT ME FEELING … Entertained, it was witty and juicy and surprising. Although I would have loved to see it in period costume, how amazing that would have been – how visually theatrical. And, fascinated by the life of actors – Hugo as Vicomte Valmont, kisses three different women… in every show.”

Still Auditioning For Life: “Everything about this production was superb, the acting, the set, the costumes, the everything. there was one man who you couldn’t take your eyes off though.  He was enigmatic, brilliant, and always in the very moment he was supposed to be in.  this actor happens to be a very famous Aussie actor, some may even go so far as to say a ‘film star’.  But that didn’t matter.  I (and nor did my friend) sit there and only see a film star.  We saw an actor who had such stage presence that we couldn’t look away from him.  You wanted to constantly know what he was doing,  or what he was going to do next.”

Photo: Jane Dempster


More Liaisons Photos and Reviews

Note: This is an archived entry that’s over two years old. While I have ensured that all photos are restored, some links may no longer work. If you encounter any dead links, let me know and I’ll try to find a copy of the material.

Thanks to all my friends and readers for their patience as I’ve dealt with a major computer meltdown here. My machine is now in the shop for diagnostics and (hopefully) repairs, and until I get it back in working order, my online sessions will be somewhat limited and curtailed, as I’m borrowing computers from friends and relatives who don’t have my files and software in place.

Fortunately, though, I can still share links and photos, and will do so whenever the opportunity presents itself. Sydney Theatre Company’s production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Christopher Hampton continues to draw sellout crowds and new rave reviews. I’ll post a selection of the latest bunch below, but first I’ll alert you that there’s a great slideshow of new and previously seen photos from the play over on Australian Stage Online. All photos (including the pair below) are by Brett Boardman.

Time Out Sydney: “”The play’s most extravagant warrior/player is the rake Valmont (Hugo Weaving), who is the sexual equivalent of a guerilla. But the master strategist is his ex-lover Merteuil (Pamela Rabe), who plays her cards very close to her breasts. The young lovers they manipulate like pawns, under the guise of assistance and training, are the novice Cécile (Geraldine Hakewill) and the space cadet Danceny (James Mackay)… The small semi-circular theatre of Wharf 1 helps build intimacy (perhaps even complicity) with the audience; a larger venue would have returned more revenue but at an artistic loss… The twin necessities of translating from page to stage and from French to English proved a fertile mother of invention; Hampton invented a remarkable language with the complex syntax of 18th century French over a contemporary vocabulary from our present age of international English. The text combines the wit of Wilde for its comedy and the bite of Albee for its tragedy. In the mouth of a mediocre actor such long sentences could be confusing and cumbersome; in the deep and perfectly modulated voices of Rabe and Weaving they are a delight to hear and a pleasure to interpret.”

Justine Clarke with Hugo Weaving (in mirror)

ArtsHub: ” “With his fabulous cast and excellent creative team, director Sam Strong brings us a magnificent production – fluid, almost conematic – that enthralls, horrifies and has you on the edge of your seat. De Laclos’ book, upon which Hampton’s play is based, was first published in 1782. The play, full of ironic, almost Wildean wit, was written in 1985… Pamela Rabe as the ruthless Marquise is magnificent, thrillingly cruel and powerful, elegant and poised in her silver bobbed hair. As the satyr-like and charming but aging rake, the Vicomte, Hugo Weaving is superb: hypnotic and devilishly desirable, an aristocratic Don Juan…. Only rarely are you able to see such an intricate, multi-layered production featuring such fine acting from the entire ensemble.”

Hugo Weaving

PagesDigital: “I’m partial to negative reviews. Purges the body and all that. Unfortunately, Sydney Theatre Company’s Les Liaisans Dangereuses gives me nothing to work with. The play, which was penned by Christopher Hampton in 1984, and is based on the 18th century scratchings of Choderlos de Laclos, is disappointingly brilliant and troublingly good. It is a lavish and engaging exploration of the libertine excess of pre-revolutionary France, performed by an unobligingly incredible cast that includes the likes of Hugo Weaving, Pamela Rabe and Heather Mitchell…. Hugo Weaving has been well cast as the plays philandering, scheming, misogynist Viscomte de Valmont. His performance delivers much of the energy, charm and humour of the production. His accomplice, played by Pamela Rabe, is similarly striking as the caustic and manipulative Marquise de Merteuil…. Hampton’s script is witty, honest and fresh, blending a modern accessible style with 18th century syntax. The stage is similarly well put together with the entirety of the drama unfolding within a single room of the house. This, and the theatre’s limited seating, make for an intimate setting.Les Liaisons Dangereuses will be showing at Sydney Theatre Company’s wharf theatre until 9 June 2012.Get involved.”  (Wonderfully cheeky, and further proof Australian critics don’t just hand out accolades.) 😉

Finally, there’s a bit more about Hugo’s Best Supporting Actor win at the Film Critics’ Circle of Australia Awards at Screen Daily.

The Latest Liaisons Reviews and Photos; Hugo Wins Film Critics’ Circle Award

Note: This is an archived entry that’s over two years old. While I have ensured that all photos are restored, some links may no longer work. If you encounter any dead links, let me know and I’ll try to find a copy of the material.

Before I haul out the latest Les Liaisons Dangereuses pics, links and excerpts, let me congratulate Hugo Weaving on his latest Best Supporting Actor prize for his role in Oranges and Sunshine, this one from the Film Critics’ Circle of Australia. The awards were announced and live-tweeted a few hours ago.

Les Liaisons Dangereuses continues to draw mostly rave reviews, apart from a few cranks from the Daily Telegraph who won’t shut up. 😉 As I mentioned in the last entry, even other reviewers from the same paper disagree with their Tall Poppy snideness; The Sunday Telegraph praised the play and Hugo’s performance lavishly. I linked to the online version of their review in the previous entry, but will include the print review because it includes a new photo of Hugo and Pamela Rabe. The Australian’s print review is also included under the cut, so those of you stymied by their subscriber’s only restrictions online can finally have a look.

All photos: Brett Boardman
Here’s the new photo by itself, for those of you with glitchy browsers. 😉

STC also added this striking new panorama image of the cast to its Facebook page; it’s a bit spoilery, but shows off the impressive staging:

The latest online reviews include:

Stage Noise by Diana Simmonds: “…There is no visible blood, but the heedless cruelty and beauty of the Vicomte and Marquise are shocking….Even more shocking is how funny it is. It’s partly the rarified and subtle comic skills of Pamela Rabe, who squeezes more out of a raised eyebrow than most can find in a carefully scripted comedy routine; and partly her foil – Hugo Weaving’s ennui-sodden libertine is both excruciating and droll….Altogether, this production is a triumph of substance over style; and there’s plenty of style too…. The arc of the drama is clearly defined, however, and by the end it is heart-rending to witness the inevitable. Wonderful theatre – a triumph for all, particularly the lucky audiences.”

Australian Stage Online: “Hugo Weaving and Pamela Rabe absolutely inhabit their roles. It was a privilege to watch two such charismatic performers ply their craft. The great, destructive love between Valmont and Merteuil is ultimately the driver of the plot, but what is perhaps more important is their friendship, full of witty, clever repartee, and Weaving and Rabe got the balance between the two just right. Justine Clarke provided an excellent counterpoint as the moral Presidente de Tourvel….What results is an incredible piece of theatre from a group of masterful theatremakers. It is suspenseful, sexy, dark, and provocative. Easily one of the best shows of the year to date.”

Curtain Call: “…One is constantly in admiration, awe and envious of the sheer excellence, sophistication and biting wit of Hampton’s construction, in which he deploys words and phrases like rapiers and scythes. Weaving and Rabe, particularly, make the very most of it, with accompanying looks and gestures that imbue a further touch of malevolence. They are dressed in modern garb; a good decision, backed eloquently by the artistic directors, in their programme notes, where they’re upfront in saying ‘Sam has dispensed with the frills, laces and powdered faces, as much to draw the line straight to today as to allow the play, situation and characters to sing, unencumbered’.”

Curiously, given the multiple interviews by the cast and director discussing their interpretive choices, a few critics are getting hung up on the fact that Hugo isn’t playing Valmont as a dandified clotheshorse… Hugo has explained in interviews, as has Mark Strong, that this version of Valmont has become so bored with his life and image as a serial seducer that he’s no longer bothering to keep up appearances. Thus the “cheap suit and shoes” aren’t an oversight or inconsistency, but a deliberate character trait. Diana Simmonds is the one critic who seems to get this: “…  Given that nothing on a stage is there by chance, the range and choice of shoes is fascinating. The Marquise’s footwear is sumptuous and elegant, Cecile’s sensible beige lace-ups signal that they were chosen by her mother and are intended to protect her virginity just as long as possible; Madame de Rosemonde’s shoes are as luxe as the Marquise’s but, she is an older woman, and she has graduated to comfort and flats. Most curious of all are Valmont’s black slip-ons: at first glance they are merely chic and informal, but they’re soon revealed as a little the worse for wear, verging on seedy– rather like Valmont himself.”

Audience reviews (on Twitter, Facebook, etc) continue to be ecstatic.

More Liaisons Reviews and Images

Note: This is an archived entry that’s over two years old. While I have ensured that all photos are restored, some links may no longer work. If you encounter any dead links, let me know and I’ll try to find a copy of the material.

The responses to STC’s new production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, starring Hugo Weaving, Pamela Rabe and Justine Clarke, continue to appear; I’ll add links and excerpts here as they do, along with the latest photos.

Hugo Weaving and Justine Clark (All photos: Brett Boardman) loved the production and lavishly praised all of its actors, as well as Sam Strong’s direction and reimagining of Christopher Hampton’s text:

“Sam Strong’s direction coupled with astonishing performances realizes every intricacy, nuance, intrigue and emotion in Hampton’s brilliant script…Weaving’s performance is like examining layers of tissue paper, torn a little here and there so we see the libertine surprised by his own chiaroscuro, falling in love so late in his career. Rabe, as the tortured marquise is poised, ice cold and indescribably cruel. The air between them crackles with intensity and hidden import….Pitch perfect is the term which comes to mind for the whole cast…It is seldom that one is privileged to watch such a strong but delicate latticework of theatre unfold faultlessly. The danger lies in missing it.”

Hugo Weaving and Pamela Rabe

The Sydney Morning Herald‘s Jason Blake also praised the adaptation; as it turns out, this review text was first posted online in Eight Nights A Week, which I excerpted here yesterday.

The Sunday Telegraph has printed a new review that somewhat makes up for the clueless one in The Daily Telegreph two days ago: “The simplicity of the staging throws the focus on the writing, which is beautiful, witty and incisive…Rabe is sensational as the Marquise – nailing her showy glamour, sharp, dry humour and duplicitous nature…As jealousy hardens her steely resolve, her body language changes, her features freeze and eyes glint dangerously. It’s a brilliant performance. She is well matched by Weaving as Valmont, whose emotional journey from calculating rake to surprised lover is subtly but beautifully wrought.”

Les Liaisons Dangereuses: First Reviews and Pics!

Note: This is an archived entry that’s over two years old. While I have ensured that all photos are restored, some links may no longer work. If you encounter any dead links, let me know and I’ll try to find a copy of the material.

At long last we have some images to go with the tantalizing descriptions of STC’s new production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses that the actors and director (and preview audience tweeters) have been teasing us with for a week. 😉 The first formal review has been posted at Stage Whispers, featuring four images from the modern yet still lavish, decadent production (all pictures by Brett Boardman) :

Hugo Weaving and Geraldine Hakewell (interesting to compare this with the photo from the 1987 production in the previous Hugonuts post). 😉

Justine Clarke and Hugo Weaving

Hugo Weaving and Pamela Rabe

The set (and cast trying to look innocent) 😉

Stage Whispers was mostly enthusiastic, though they couldn’t resist recycling the old predatory feline metaphors prevalent in 1987:  “…It has been one of the most keenly anticipated plays of the Sydney year. The STC debut of Griffin Artistic Director Sam Strong with an A list cast. The result lived up to the hype…

Hugo Weaving played the rapacious scoundrel Le Vicomte De Valmont. He moved around the stage like a panther stalking his prey. It was a role he played several decades ago, and it has matured on him like a good vintage red wine.”

More reviews (and, hopefully, images) will be added as they roll in. Audience comments via Twitter and Facebook have been uniformly rapturous. (The one dissent, rather predictably, was from the Daily Telegraph critic, who, IMO, doesn’t seem to understand that the dynamic between Merteuil and Valmont IS one of hatred, not of love or lust.)

And I gotta say I’m glad Hugo’s gone with the same look in the play’s advertising… it really suits him. Um… so to speak. 😉

STC has finally posted some production photos to their blog; some are duplicates of those above, but these two are new (all by Brett Boardman) :

Pamela Rabe and Hugo Weaving

Hugo and Geraldine Hakewell

UPDATE: another rave from Eight Nights a Week: “Written in 1985, Hampton’s adaptation of Choderlos de Laclos’ epistolary novel of 1782 remains a scintillating dissection of two predators and Strong’s sparely elegant production serves it well, privileging the sophistication of its ideas over its capacity to titillate….The careful regulation of tone results in a first half that seems worryingly arid at times, but that avoidance of emotion works to set the audience up for a vivid second act whose energy seems to mirror Valmont’s brief flowering as a man in love….Unrecognisable for a moment under her feathery silver bob, Rabe plays Merteuil as a fearless and calculating player….By contrast, Weaving’s rakishly over-the-hill Valmont is a consummate portrayal of a shapeshifting seducer who callously wrecks the lives of the 15-year-old convent girl Cecile (Geraldine Hakewill, excellent in the role) and Mme. de Tourvel (a heart-rending Justine Clarke), whose faith in God and humanity Valmont is compelled to destroy.”