Award-winning London-based Irish actress Elaine Cassidy has spent most of her stage time over the past four years at the Donmar Warehouse and the majority of that under the direction of Lyndsay Turner in Brian Friel plays. In 2014 she appeared in the late, great Irish dramatist’s – often referred to as the Irish Ckekov – adaptation of Russian novelist Ivan Turgenev’s best known work, FATHER AND SONS and returned this year in his haunting 1979 piece ARISTOCRATS, a play about a generation whose past threatens to obliterate its future, which finished its two month run last weekend.
It’s the first major revival of this minor modern classic since Brian’s death three years ago. In between the two productions, Elaine stepped in at the 11th hour to replace Michelle Dockery in LES LIASIONS DANGEREUSES. Central to the ARISTOCRATS are the damaged O’Donnell sibblings, who gather at their crumbling family home, Ballybeg Hall in Donegal for the marriage of sister Claire. It’s a far cry from the former glory days. Elaine played Alice, an alcoholic, described by Paul Taylor in his Independent review as ‘elegantly sozzled’ with ‘brutal fits of self- awareness.’
She signed my sketch at the Donmar during the final week of the production.
Two hundred years after Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’ sizzling and scandalous epistolary novel LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES slipped into pre-Revolutionary France, Christopher Hamption’s lauded and awarded adaption for both stage and screen appeared, collecting an Oscar, BAFTA and an Olivier Award in the process. It’s the tale of sex, intrigue and betrayal between two jealously-fuelled aristocrats (and ex-lovers), the Marquisede Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont use of seduction to degrade and humiliate others, in this case the virtuous and beautiful Madame de Tourvel. Critic, Dominic Cavendish summed -up the plot in The Telegraph “The destruction of purity and innocence, the cynical pursuit of pleasure at the expense of others’ pain, vice unbounded, yet kept within the impressive mask of civilised decorum.”
A ‘heady and intoxicating’ 30th Anniversary revival, directed by Josie Rourke is currently playing at London’s Donmar Warehouse featuring Janet McTeer, Dominic West and Elaine Cassidy in their respective leads roles.
The Independent’s veteran critic Paul Taylor wrote Dominic’s Valmont is a “seductive sociopath and erotomane who uses strategy as foreplay with a hotline between increasingly active brain and insatiable genitals” He describes Janet as “drop-dead striking …(who) insinuates and machinates in a breathy, mocking manner, her eyes a-glare with sinisterly circumspection and latent with injury”, and Elaine “superbly communicates a state of growing feverish chastity.”