Albery Theatre, London WC2
Opened 4 October, 2001

**** A celebrated theatrical reunion still throws sparks

Fifteen years ago Howard Davies directed Alan Rickman and Lindsay Duncan in Les Liaisons Dangéreuses. They're back together again...

This production is so obviously an inspired marketing idea reunite the director and stars to see whether the electricity of old can flow once more that it has no real right to succeed as theatre.  But succeed it does, really rather well.

Rickman in particular sometimes looks and feels too old in his middle fifties to be playing Elyot Chase, who finds on his second honeymoon that the next hotel room is occupied by his ex-wife Amanda on a similar trip. But his waspishness as an actor has always been on the measured side, and so meshes well with Duncan's refreshingly wise, almost triste Amanda in a glorious first act. In particular, the moment where they first catch sight of each other on adjacent balconies is one to treasure. Likewise, Emma Fielding astutely portrays Elyot's second wife Sibyl as thoughtfully as if she, not Amanda, were the lead, and Adam Godley plays rather against his type as the stolid, dull Victor.

The second act, in which we see Elyot and Amanda return to their sparring of old, seems to flag somewhat. But overall this is one of those welcome occasions when the content matches the headline.

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Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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