Stuart King

Review: CRUEL INTENTIONS at The Other Palace

A pair of cynical step-siblings (arrogant jock and bitchy beauty) exude a barely suppressed sexual tension leading to unsavoury competitiveness. The result is a bet between the two which essentially determines which of them has the greatest capacity to deceive and manipulate. When it comes to victims, the many naive and unworldly attendees of the affluent school they attend, provide rich pickings.

Cruel Intentions - Pamela Raith PhotographyCruel Intentions - Pamela Raith Photography

Developing the relatively simplistic initial premise, the school’s diverse group of youngsters lose inhibitions, form tentative relationships, plot retribution, squabble and deliver a raft of pop standards whose first lines can loosely be shoe-horned to fit whatever tentative juvenile subplot is under discussion. As a formula, it is hardly original nor especially sophisticated, but the result is precisely what the writers set out to achieve, and the result is a tongue-in-cheek, beast of a bitch-fest, teen romantic drama, which moves at a fair lick fed by the giddying array of chart successes drawn from the 1990s (which includes: My Religion, Torn, The Sign, No Scrubs, Genie in a Bottle, I’ll Make Love To You, Bye Bye Bye, Sometimes and, Bittersweet Symphony).

Many will already be familiar with this theatrical offering which is closely modelled on the 1999 US film version of the same name, which itself was a loose reworking of Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Here, the tightly rehearsed lead performers deliver their substantial contributions through punchy vocals and a playful understanding of the comedic elements. Much falls on the shoulders of Rhianne-Louise McCaulsky as Kathryn Merteuil and Daniel Bravo as Sebastian Valmont, but there are substantial contributions elsewhere most notably from Rose Galbraith as Cecile and Abbie Budden as Annette Hargrove.

Much of the rather irritating choreography deployed here appears to be a mash-up developed from a combination of Matt Mattox and Nicky Bentley street jazz - some of which may or may not have been inspired by, or directly emulated from the original pop videos. The best that can be said of it, is that it gives some lesser-utilised ensemble members something to occupy them.

The show will almost certainly divide opinion, with those who recognise the ‘90s as their era of music, undoubtedly having a ball.

Cruel Intentions Musical Tickets