Quartett, Heiner Müller's sexually charged "dramatic reverie" based on the novel, "Les Liaisons Dangereuses," gets a fresh staging directed by Gabriella Maione at The Brooklyn Academy of Music's Harvey Theatre, June 27-July 1.
Tony Award nominee Daniel McDonald (Steel Pier) is featured as Valmont in the four-actor play about sex, power, control and games. Müller, who died in 1995, insisted his 1980 play was a comedy (it "has a bit of Charley's Aunt in it," he once said).
The cast also includes Chandler Vinton as Marquise de Meurteil, who, like Valmont, makes sport of sexual conquests. They both "acknowledge the world as a theatre in which they create roles of their own invention," according to production notes.
Omar Metwally and Suzanne Packer are also featured in the work, which has its roots in the novel by Choderlos de Laclos (the play Les Liaisons Dangereuses and films "Valmont" and "Dangerous Liaisons" were also inspired by the book). The international design team includes Jean Paul Chambas (set), Catherine Zuber (costumes) and Robert Wierzel (lighting). Michael Galasso, a collaborator with Robert Wilson for more than 20 years, has composed music for the staging and serves as sound designer.
Müller (1929-1995) is the brash European playwright whose dark works continued a tradition started in the 20th century by Bertolt Brecht. Müller's works include The Father, Hamletmachine, The Mission and Despoiled Shore Medeamaterial Landscape With Argonauts. Quartett plays fast and loose with time, starting in a drawing room before the French Revolution and finishing in an air-raid shelter after World War III. It follows Valmont and the Maquise's attempt to "fend off the terrible Void which yawns before them by 'stuffing' it like an orifice...with their conquests," according to production notes.
Maione is an Italian-born theatre and film director and a playwright and actress with credits at theatres throughout Europe.
Quartett is presented in a translation by Marc von Henning and is produced by RPN Globe Productions. An international tour is expected. Tickets are $50. The BAM Harvey Theatre is at 651 Fulton Street in Brooklyn. For information, call (212) 307-4100 for BAM at (718) 636 4100.
— By Kenneth Jones