The great Swiss director Luc Bondy—who has just produced a controversial Tosca at the New York Met—returns to the Young Vic where, in 2004, he directed a compelling update of Sophocles by Martin Crimp, Cruel and Tender. This time, it’s a new version of Arthur Schnitzler’s Viennese tragedy Liebelei, reworked by the talented Scottish playwright David Harrower. A young man has an affair with a married woman. At a party, he flirts with a girl who falls headlong in love with him. Meanwhile, the married woman’s husband looms.
Tom Stoppard translated the play as Dalliance for the National Theatre in 1986, mixing secessionist fin de siècle charm with a trademark biting wit. But Bondy and Harrower are updating it to the contemporary metropolitan scene, as Sam Mendes and David Hare did with Schnitzler’s La Ronde—seen as The Blue Room with Nicole Kidman at the Donmar Warehouse in 1998.
A pungent blast of misdirected sensuality seems on the cards with a cast of hot names including Natalie Dormer (Anne Boleyn in The Tudors on television) and Tom Hughes (from the new Ian Dury biopic Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll). The event also marks an interesting collaboration between the Young Vic and Bondy’s Vienna Festival, as well as the co-commissioning Warwick Arts Centre.
This article originally appeared in the March 2010 edition of Prospect