“Quartett is about distorted human relationships: the games people play, the way they torment each other, people's inability to admit their feelings and self-sacrifice.”
“Marchioness de Merteuil and Vicomte de Valmont, the heartless, sexually scheming aristocrats of Choderlos de Laclos's famous epistolary novel of the 18th century, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, have been dramatized in the 20th century by English playwright Christopher Hampton as well as transformed into wealthy, bored New York teenagers in the Hollywood movie Cruel Intentions.
However, in 1980 before Hampton and the movie, the East German playwright and disciple of Brecht, Heiner Muller, who was seen in the German Democratic Republic as a dissident Marxist but was later appointed director of Brecht's theatre, The Berliner Ensemble, places the Marchioness and the Vicomte in a "time-space" that starts in a drawing room before the French Revolution and ends in an air raid shelter after World War Three. Here in this enclosed Sartre-like setting they play out their fantasies, role-playing each other as well a Volanges and Tourvel, two intended victims of the scheming aristocrats, fully aware they are heading towards extinction.
On the way they descend into the sexual excesses that are offered by de Sade (‘May be it's violence that unlocks the key to my heart,’ says Merteuil) as well as the glittering promises of God-like power over their victims that Nietzsche offers them.
In their quest for power over each other and their cynical use of innocent people to satisfy their perverted desires the 18th century aristocrats Merteuil and Valmont come to represent all elites seeking even more wealth and power as they seal themselves off from humanity as the world hurtles towards Armageddon.” (Reviewed by Laurie Atkinson, 26 Jan 2006 originally published in The Dominion Post)
Quartett is the first performance created by the Quartett Co-op, a small theatre company formed by Bronwyn Tweddle, using well-known Wellington-based professional actors and designers. Individual members of the Quartett Co-op have worked together previously, such as on the multiple award-winning production Albert Speer (2004) and all members have extensive experience in professional theatre.