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Dangerous Liaisons

Dangerous Liaisons

Dangerous LiaisonsYes. Those kinds. Those kinds of relationships. We make jokes about shades of gray. We live in a society immersed in sex, and sexual innuendo. Can we learn something from French mores of the 1700s? High court, high class, intrigue, seduction, revenge, power, and dare I say love, all come into play. And the play is Dangerous Liaisons brought to us by the UWM Peck School of the Arts Theatre main stage production this November.

Yes. Those kinds. Those kinds of relationships. We make jokes about shades of gray. We live in a society immersed in sex, and sexual innuendo. Can we learn something from French mores of the 1700s? High court, high class, intrigue, seduction, revenge, power, and dare I say love, all come into play. And the play is Dangerous Liaisons brought to us by the UWM Peck School of the Arts Theatre main stage production this November.

If you have not attended theatrical performances at UWM, the loss is yours. I have enjoyed every stage play I have seen over many decades at UWM. One is even the best performance I have ever experienced.

I met Sasha Katharine Sigel, who plays the Marquise de Merteuil, as a service learning student this fall for River Revitalization Foundation. She agreed to recreate a radio play called Northern Lights (starring WoollyBear caterpillars) with me this December. And I asked if I could do a story about her lead role in Les Liaisons Dangereuses.

Sasha and male lead McCormick Sweeney (yes, that is his real name, and yes he is Irish) agreed to meet me in the UWM library coffee shop. McCormick plays the Vicomte de Valmont, the Marquise’s foil. We talked about the play in depth.

As to casting, Sasha has the beauty and desire needed to carry this role and Sweeney is handsome and confident.

The de Merteuil can be a jealous and vindictive woman. Valmont is a seducer, who cares not what damage is done to his conquests. These are dark characters, complex with many layers of motivation. The Marquise manipulates her lover Valmont to seduce an innocent woman as revenge. And for Valmont the reward is her passion.

Sasha describes her role as one of power. The question is who has more control and how does that change as the drama unfolds. She is in love with Valmont but cannot have a healthy relationship. There is only the game of seduction. She has the higher position in society but as a woman she says she wants to “dominate your sex and avenge my own.”

McCormick interprets Valmont as being truly in love with de Merteuil. The only woman he has really loved.

This cannot end well.

After our talk I followed them to Mitchell Hall, which was buzzing with Peck School of the Arts activity. On the fifth floor Sasha and McCormick posed for me and rehearsed the play in practice costume, with stage marks taped to the floor and a grab bag of tables and chairs as rehearsal props. I got a feeling of the time and effort put into a production like this. There are ten speaking roles and three silent servants in the play, which consists of two acts. Drawings of period costumes designs were taped to the wall. Stage hands were there for the rehearsal.

I asked Sasha and McCormick how this play relates to today. They both agreed that there is pain today as there was then when it comes to affairs of the heart. Betrayal, manipulation and power are still evident. The biggest question from the two: “What would have to happen for me to commit these acts?”

Yes. Those dangerous relationships. This is a study of human behavior and its sometimes very dark consequences.

If You Go:

Les Liaisons Dangereuses

November 20-24, 2013

Mainstage Theatre, 2400 E. Kenwood Blvd.

7:30pm Wednesday-Saturday & 2:00pm Sunday