Photo by Daren Scott
Jessica John Gercke and Richard Baird in Les Liaisons Dangereuses
Among the many questions raised by Les Liaisons Dangereuses, set in the late 1780s in an opulent France, is how can people wearing so many clothes be so sexy? The answer lies in the delicious deceits and libidinous machinations of playwright Christopher Hampton’s exquisitely written confederates in games of love and revenge, the Vicomte de Valmont and the Marquise de Merteuil. New Fortune Theatre Co.’s production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses is being staged in the San Diego Rep’s Lyceum Space under the co-direction of New Fortune artistic director Richard Baird and Kaitlin O’Neal. Theirs is a bold realization of Hampton’s 1985 play, from its rich 18th-century costumes by Howard Schmitt, its sensual lighting and artfully choreographed scene changes to the irresistible performances by Baird as the cocksure Valmont and Jessica John Gercke as scheming Merteuil.
Nearly overshadowed by Baird’s charismatic presence is the depth of Hampton’s language, rife with introspection on love, sex and betrayal. As Valmont seeks to conquer not only the elusive Madame de Tourvel (Amanda Schaar) but also the virginal Cecile de Volanges (Gentry Roth), his mask of cunningness is stripped away. Meanwhile, his partner in crime, Merteuil, is in for a shock to the ego and the heart. This New Fortune production is yes, very sexy, but also a penetrating discourse on the games people play.
Les Liaisons Dangereuses runs through Jan. 28 at the Lyceum Space in Horton Plaza, downtown. $20-$47. newfortunetheatre.com
• • •
The preservation of memory, the inevitability of death and the shadow of regret combine to make Jordan Harrison’s Marjorie Prime a cerebral yet sterile drama. The “primes” in this San Diego premiere at the North Coast Rep are artificial-intelligence replicas of those who, in the course of one 75-minute act, die off among a splintered family of the near future. Eighty-something Marjorie (Dee Maaske) is the title character, but this ponderous play centers on daughter Tess (Elaine Rivkin), who has more trouble being human than the primes do. Harrison’s play, directed here by Matthew Weiner, couches its truths about existence as futuristic, but the fact is, they are timeless puzzlements.
Marjorie Prime runs through Feb. 5 at North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach. $39-$50. Northcoastrep.org
Plays by Young Writers Festival: The annual festival will feature six new plays from winners of the California Young Playwrights Contest. Presented by the Playwrights Project, it happens from Jan. 19 through Jan. 29 at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. playwrightsproject.org
Altar Boyz: A musical parody about a fictional Christian boy band on the last night of their tour. Written by Kevin Del Aguila, it opens Jan. 20 at the Coronado Playhouse. coronadoplayhouse.com
What the Butler Saw: A psychiatrist tries to seduce a receptionist and hilarity ensues in Joe Orton’s classic British farce. Directed by Keith Anderson, it opens Jan. 20 at Lamplighters Community Theatre in La Mesa. lamplighterslamesa.com