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The scandalous reputation of Laclos's novel, first published in 1782, is based on its chilling portrayal of the mannered decadence and sexual cynicism of the French aristocracy in the last years of the ancien regime. Christopher Hampton has made a masterful adaptation for the stage of the conspiracy to corrupt a young girl barely out of her convent.
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ent and degenerate world of the pre-revolutionary French aristocracy the suave, satanically elegant Vicomte de Valmont (Ciaran Hinds) and his beautiful ex-lover La Marquise de Merteuil (Lindsay Duncan) play an elaborate and cynical game of sexual conquest and emotional sadism.
Rejecting the prospect of seducing the fifteen-year-old Cecile as too easy a conquest, Valmont seeks prey more worthy of his talent and reputation. And Madame de Tourvel (Emma Fielding), pious, married and absolutely faithful to both her husband and her God, would be his greatest coup.
As Valmont slowly ensnares his victim he becomes, despite himself, increasingly attracted to her - which is not at all to the liking of his ex-mistress. And Valmont finds himself challenged by a woman every bit as capable of double-dealing as himself.
'Hampton's achievement is to have preserved the satanic magnetism of the twin conspirators while going all out for social comedy. But this is comedy of the highest theatrical kind: Edged with danger, replete with pain and forever reminding us that lives are being ruined with the flick of a well-turned phrase.' - Guardian
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