Keep your legs together. This isn’t Jamaica.
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Cruel Intentions is a 1990s teen romantic thriller which, unusually for that genre, is based on an 18th century French novel, Les Liaison Dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos. The book has often been adapted for stage and screen, most famously the Alan Rickman-starring West End and Broadway play (Les Liaisons Dangereuses) which was adapted as 1988’s Oscar-nominated Dangerous Liaisons, starring Glenn Close, John Malkovitch, Michelle Pfeiffer and Uma Thurman. Colin Firth and Annette Benning also headed up a big-screen version, Valmont, in 1989 although this was overshadowed by the success of it’s sumptuous predecessor.
Although not the first film adaption in a modern setting (a 1950s version set in contemporary France predates it by 40 years), Cruel Intentions, was released in 1999 starring Ryan Philippe, Sarah Michelle-Gellar, Selma Blair and Reese Witherspoon, transposing the plot from 18th century French aristocratic intrigue to 1990s Manhattan prep school. Gellar and Philippe play despicable step-siblings Kathryn and Sebastian who enter into a wager around Sebastian’s success in seducing the headmaster’s daughter Annette (Witherspoon), while Kathryn is plotting revenge against Cecile (Blair) in whose favour Kathryn had been dumped by her ex.
Sebastian: How is your gold-digging whore of a mother enjoying Bali?
Kathryn: She suspects your impotent, alcoholic father is diddling the maid.
Kathryn and Sebastian’s plots of sexual conquest, revenge and betrayal become entwined but begin to fall apart as Sebastian falls in love with Annette, to his step-sister’s dismay. The film infamously won Best Kiss at the 2000 MTV Movie Awards for a scene between Sarah Michelle Gellar and Selma Blair.
Given the characters and the plot, this story is ripe for musical adaptation. An Argentinian version, Las Relaciones Peligrosas, opened in 2012 and a fictional Broadway musical Liaisons features extensively in Season 2 of Smash. There are also a couple of operas and a ballet! However, the world was really waiting for a musical adaptation of Cruel Intentions, which arrived in 2015 in LA as a 1990s juke-box “unauthorized parody” musical with songs from the era (including Christina Aguilera’s Genie In A Bottle) and the film soundtrack (which notably featured The Verve’s Bitter Sweet Symphony). The show is about to open in New York for a limited “pop-up” run of three nights, with a “full” production hoped for in due course.
How best to celebrate such an event? With a recipe for a beverage that will surely be the toast of the under-aged Manhattan elite… I present Gruel Inventions! Wait – don’t go…!
What is gruel, I hear you not ask – and why did Oliver want more? Gruel is essentially a thin liquid food of oatmeal boiled in milk, water or broth – and generally savoury rather than sweet. Yum!
I decided against boiling oats in broth, but kept the savoury flavours and a lighter texture than smoothies, although perhaps not as watery as Dickensian gruel. I decided to go non-dairy in this recipe and use almond milk (I used Alpro Unsweetened Almond Milk), more for the nutty flavour than anything else, but go ahead and use whatever form of milk you usually enjoy.
Cecile: This sure doesn’t taste like an iced tea.
Sebastian: It’s from Long Island
Soak the oats and chia overnight in the almond milk. The following morning, blend the cereal mix with a pinch of salt, the lime juice, half a ripe avocado and a grating of nutmeg. Taste to adjust the seasoning (making sure you can just taste the nutmeg) and consistency (adding more milk if too thick). Using a milk-frother, make some milk froth (confession – I did use cow’s milk for this as it’s more stable, but as you’re less likely to take photos, you can still make a froth out of the almond milk) and garnish with a pinch of citrussy sumac.
This drink will give you all the energy you need to slut-shame all those beatches who dare to get in your way.