Posted by Michael Avery
22. May, 2012
German playwright Heiner Muller’s Quartet dates from the early 80’s. It’s based on Laclos’s Dangerous Liasons, a novel based around the letters sent between its characters. Two of these, Merteil and Valmont, plot to destroy reputations with calculated seduction. In Quartet, Muller has reduced the cast to this pair of sexual conspirators.
If you are a La Mama Courthouse regular you may have trouble recognising the space, which has been transformed into a modern ‘theatre in the round’ with a mass of scaffolding. It gives a voyeuristic view of the play, as the audience gazes down at the dance of tongues (and bodies) below.
Mirrors, television screens and (evidently) hidden cameras abound within the set, with lounges and wardrobes that emerge from the antiquated 18th century French drawing room.
Quartet’s plot and setting allows you to peer into the plans of Merteuil (Felicity Steel) and Valmont (Andrew Grey). As the show progresses, intentions and glimpses of the character’s humanity are revealed even as they plot to bring down their targets and ultimately each other.
It’s a pretty text-heavy play. You can delve in or skim lightly over and still enjoy it. Steel and Grey have previously performed the work and have developed a strong connection to the play and each other. They do well with such dark characters in a strange relationship. Recommended.
Quartet with The Razor is showing at La Mama Courthouse until May 27. Tickets and info at lamama.com.au
A feverishly fraternal, in-your-face drama.
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