Jack Garrison
associate professor of theatre, 308.865.8409

“Les Liaisons Dangereuses,” a play based on the novel written by Choderlos de Laclos, will be presented by the University of Nebraska at Kearney theatre department April 18-22.

The performances begin in the Miriam Drake Theatre in the Fine Arts Building at 7:30 p.m. April 18-21. A Sunday matinee on April 22 will begin at 2 p.m.

Tickets for the production are available from the UNK Theatre Box Office in the Fine Arts Building or at 308-865-8417. Ticket prices are $7 for adults; $5 for UNK faculty/staff, non-UNK students and seniors; and tickets are $3 each for individuals who attend as a part of a group of 10 or more. UNK students with their student I.D. are admitted free.

Jack Garrison, associate professor of theatre and director of the UNK production, said the work is “a play of intrigue and sexual manipulation.”

Due to the mature content in the production, Garrison said he recommends only adults attend the play.

“Some of the relationships are really quite adult, but it is such a well-written play – the language, the dialogue, the wit. You sort of have to work through what some people would call objectionable content to appreciate how witty and well-written the play is,” Garrison said.

Garrison said the mature content in the play is not sensational, but sophisticated and intelligent, and character development drives the production.

“It is basically about a woman named Merteuil and a man named Valmont,” Garrison said. “These two people have over the years, off and on, been lovers, and they have decided after they stop being lovers and become friends that they will have this liaison and go about manipulating people in getting money and sex, and just power plays on everyone they are based upon.”

Garrison said the play opens with Merteuil’s lover leaving her for another woman, who happens to be Valmont’s mistress.

“They take it upon themselves to exact revenge on these two people, and the whole play takes place then with these two people trying to wreak havoc and revenge on the two people they feel have slighted them,” Garrison said.

In their plots for vengeance, Garrison said five characters are literally or psychologically destroyed.

Garrison said the complexity and psychological aspects of the play will fascinate audience members, and he also said the play will highlight the talents of the cast.

“I’ve always wanted to do this show, because it is a real showcase for four actors and actresses. The cast is larger than that, but these four people really must push the envelope and put themselves on the line. It’s such a complex and fascinating play; something I’ve wanted to do for years and years,” Garrison said.

At two hours and 40 minutes, Garrison said the play is long, but the storyline will captivate audience members.

“I think this story and the characters will suck you into it, and you’ll be surprised just how fast time will pass,” Garrison said.

Based on what he has observed from rehearsals, Garrison said that a casual audience member will miss some of the elements of the play during his or her first showing and may want to watch the production multiple times.

Though the play features a French title and is based on a French novel, Garrison said the dialogue is in modern English. 

The setting of the play is right before the French Revolution of 1789. Garrison said the main characters of the play are members of the French aristocracy who have too much money and free time, which leads them to unsavory, manipulative acts.

“This is the way they occupy themselves, because they have nothing else to do. They are extremely rich, extremely intelligent and bored to death,” Garrison said.

Garrison said women during the era of the play were suppressed, and the female lead is stymied by the social norms of the time.

“Merteuil, the main character, is an extremely intelligent woman with not many positive outlets for her wit and her intelligence. So, she has sort of been relegated to surviving by her feminine wiles. In the 21st century, she would be a CEO in almost any large corporation. She’s that good at management, interpersonal relationships, intelligence, but in the 1780s, women were very suppressed,” Garrison said.

The final aspect of the production Garrison said audience members should look for is a big sword fight at the end of the play and a huge train wreck, figuratively speaking, where main characters will meet their demise.

The cast members, and the parts they play, are listed alphabetically by hometowns:

Columbus – Jakob Enzminger, Le Vicomte de Valmont         
Elgin – Krystine Hoefer, Emilie                 
Elkhorn – Tyler Jack Kaufmann, Le Chevalier Danceny         
Gibbon – Jenna Johannsen, La Marquise de Merteuil         
Kearney – Elizabeth Doxtator-Morenberg, Mme. de Rosemonde     
McCook – Bobbi Ridenour, Mme. de Volanges     
Nebraska City – David Hotsenpillar, Major-Domo             
Omaha – Jordan Litherland, Cecile Volanges         
Ord – Ryan Hruza, Azolan; Chelsa Petska, La Presidente de Tourvel