Dangerous decadence at Cardiff's Coal Exchange
This week Mappa Mundi Theatre Company's new production of Dangerous Liaisons is in Cardiff.
The company's chosen to perform at the Coal Exchange in Cardiff Bay as, due to the ongoing refurbishment of Sherman Cymru, the city is a drama venue down. The Coal Exchange is a great place for gigs and other functions, but I was intrigued to see how it would work for theatre.
After visiting during the company's get-in of the show, it looks as if the building will be great for this production. The architecture of the Coal Exchange may be a hundred years or so out of the play's period but the real wooden pillars of the building seem like an extension of the set's pillars that suggest 18th century Paris.
Dangerous Liaisons is perhaps best known for its film incarnation, but Laclos' novel works equally well as a stage piece. It's a picture of a bored and decadent society; one in which privilege certainly doesn't automatically bring happiness. Lloyd Llewellyn Jones, who's directed and designed the show, cleverly mixes formality with underlying brute passion.
The set is purple and pink and, although the historically accurate costumes - boned bodices, bum rolls, big skirts, lace and fans - are at first sight in subdued tones, suddenly there's a flash of shocking pink petticoat that hints at something rather than less proper lurking beneath the facade! The music for the show cleverly time travels, combining 18th century harpsichord pieces with blasting 20th century pop in what Lloyd describes as a "Glee-type mash up".
Put all this together with a really solid Mappa Mundi cast and it's hardly surprising that Dangerous Liaisons has had some great reviews and a highly successful tour so far. I'm off to see the whole show tonight - revenge, sexual intrigue and downright wickedness with great frocks - what more could you ask for a good night out?