Hyde Park Players present “Dangerous Liaisons” this weekend

Assistant to the Editor

The Hyde Park Community Players will present “Dangerous Liaisons” this weekend and next at University Church, 5655 S. University Ave.

The anachronistic production is based on Christopher Hampton’s 1985 adaptation of the 18th century French novel, a tale of two idle French aristocrats and their schemes to seduce others.

The play’s characters — depicted by a cast of 13 — will wear a combination of 18th century and contemporary dress and the production will feature a mostly rock soundtrack with lyrics relating to the story, according to director Laura MacGregor, a Woodlawn resident.

“I started hearing modern love songs a couple of years ago and just thought it sounded like they were talking about the characters in the play,” MacGregor said, adding that this sparked her interest in an anachronistic take on the story.

“Dangerous Liaisons” begins with a bet between two protagonists, Marquise de Merteuil and Vicomte de Valmont, former lovers who agree that if the latter can seduce the abstinent wife of a politician, then he will win the Marquise back. Their exploits, however, spiral out of their control — and ultimately lead Valmont into a duel.

“They are absolutely tragic heroes in the classical Greek sense,” said MacGregor. “There is the apparent possibility of redemption, they’re larger than life and ultimately we see their destruction at their own hands because of their own flaws.”

But as manipulative as the characters might be, MacGregor said she feels compassion for them — and hopes her audience does, too.

“You watch them in their sort of destructive game — you can’t help but almost root for them a little bit, because they’re magnificent monsters.”

MacGregor is a professional actor and storyteller in addition to her duties at her day job at the University of Chicago Family Resource Center. She also directed for the Players two plays by William Inge, in a 2012 production entitled “Bittersweet Love.”

The schedule for “Dangerous Liaisons” will include 8 p.m. showings on Saturday, Nov. 16; Friday, Nov. 22 and Saturday, Nov. 23. Matinee showings will take place at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 17; Saturday, Nov. 23 and Sunday, Nov. 24.

Tickets are for sale at What the Traveler Saw, 1508 E. 55th St.; 57th Street Books, 1301 E. 57th St., and at hydeparkcommunityplayers.org. Tickets cost $12 at the door and $10 in advance.