Theatre Review: Cruel Intentions: The '90s Musical, Assembly George Square, Edinburgh

Cruel Intentions: The 90s Musical is de Laclos by way of R.E.M and and Ace of Base.
Cruel Intentions: The 90s Musical is de Laclos by way of R.E.M and and Ace of Base.
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If there’s a second or even third-hand feel to this jukebox musical version of the 1999 teenage reimagining of 1980s adaption of de Laclos’ 1782 novel of sexual intrigue then it really shouldn’t be that surprising.

Cruel Intentions: The '90s Musical, Assembly George Square, Edinburgh ***

Les Liaisons Dangeruses has been adapted countless times but there’s only so many times you can copy something before losing it’s finer qualities.

It probably helps if you’re familiar with at least one previous iteration of the story as the show is lean, such is the rush to get to the next snatch of a former chart-topper. The songs are solidly performed - although you suspect some of the cast members were teenagers themselves when the original movie came out - but they’re often also edited down to their recognisable hooks. This actually works well when it’s used a punchline (Ace of Base’s “The Sign”) but quite wince-makingly embarrassing when it’s deployed for a big emotional moment; the use of REM’s “Losing My Religion” is so misjudged as to be laughable. However, this all just adds to the cheerful, vulgar sugar-rush of the - strikingly lit - proceedings. The original novel is vulgar as hell, after all, and even Laclos might get a bit of kick out of this, you feel.

Until 25 August

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