Q-Notes editor Matt Comer speaks with the director Glenn Griffin and actor Kristian Wedolowski of Queen City Theatre’s production of “Dangerous,” an all-male, gay version of “Les Liaisons dangereuses” (“Dangerous Liaisons”). Comer, Griffin and Wedolowski discuss Charlotte, Southern culture, gay life, sex and art. The play will debut in Charlotte on April 2 at Duke Energy Theatre.
(Interview is approximately 28 minutes long)
Since the 1782 publication of the French novel “Les Liaisons dangereuses,” better known as “Dangerous Liaisons” to the English-speaking world, European and American playwrights, and later filmmakers, have been obsessed with capturing the spirit and risqué sexuality of author Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’ characters.
In April, Charlotte will get a taste of the classic French tale in an all-male, gay version produced by Queen City Theatre Company.
While mainstream media will likely turn their attention to the retelling of the 1996 Charlotte “Angels in America” drama presented in “Southern Rapture” by Actor’s Theatre, “Dangerous” will present a much more openly sexual tale that has managed to stay alive in the minds of Westerners for centuries. This contemporary adaptation of “Les Liaisons dangereuses” by playwright Tom Smith is bound to turn some heads; thank the heavens above Charlotte isn’t as conservative as it was in 1996.
Director Glenn Griffin, one of four Queen City Theatre founders, says that despite the raw sexuality of the production, the piece has artistic and real-life meaning. If art celebrates life, how can it not celebrate and explore sex, a key component of it?
“I think the original novel could only do so much for the period it was in,” Griffin told Q-Notes during a recorded conversation available exclusively at Q-Notes Online. “There is so much sexual energy suggested. The movies and plays based on novel once again suggested all of that. But this play really plays into the sex of it; the game of it and the manipulation — all of the ways that sex can be used, even as a weapon.”
The sheer amount of open sexuality in the play made casting difficult, a Queen City Theatre founder and “Dangerous” actor Kristian Wedolowski said.
“Glenn was very clear in the auditions as to what the show would be about,” he said. “Some people did audition and did get cast and got our phone call and had to turn it down. Either they were gay and their partners wouldn’t allow them to do such a show on stage and others were straight and weren’t comfortable with this type of play.”
Two straight actors were eventually cast, playing the two young lovers in the tale.
“There’s still a taboo of ‘Oh, I’m straight. I don’t want to do a gay play,” Griffin said, letting his pride show for the two straight actors who’ve said they’re committed to playing the roles.
The production isn’t for the faint of heart. Wedolowski and Griffin expect the show to be a hit, but certainly not one that’ll keep their company afloat. They’ve relied on more subdued productions to see them through the current economic mess and allow them to present challenging and rare works like “Dangerous.”
“There was a moment in October that we were really depressed, to the point of ‘Like, what are we going to do?’’ Wedolowski said. “The election, the economic crisis, the gas crisis — everything together — since then we have been optimistic and it is growing. A lot of people have begun to see theater again as a way to get out of their problems, to get out of their houses.”
“Dangerous” will be presented at Duke Energy Theatre, 345 N. College St., Charlotte, from April 2 through April 18. For more information and for tickets, visit www.queencitytheatre.com or call 704-372-1000.