Review: Fatal Attraction
Does the cinema classical hold up to a modern day stage reimagining?
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This West End adaptation of Fatal Attraction is a bold update of the story from the 1980s to the present day. The story is simple, and one you undoubtedly know, family man Dan is left home alone for the weekend as his chipper wife, Beth (who could definitely be called Charlotte York ) and daughter, Ellen go to look at a house in the country. Itching for a little excitement he ends up bedding Alex, a woman he meets in a bar and she becomes dangerously obsessed with him.
Let's be frank, the sexual landscape in the 1980s was a world away from what it is now, even for straight folk. The ease with which you can hunt a potential lover online, it's almost innocent to see two characters meet in a bar, have dinner, go home to fuck and then hit a club. Fatal Attraction is in thrall to the original time in which it was written but keeps showing modern tech on stage.The bassy electronic score and set design involving two giant blue monoliths makes it kind of look like a music video. Of course, threatening snapchats aren't as spooky as a 2am phone call, they only last 10 seconds after all, but why ignore the 8 million social networks out there, ready to stalk folk on? Keeping Fatal Attraction in 1987 might have been more successful in this respect.
The performances are the production's strongest point. McElhone in particular works a much more empathetic element into the character of Alex. Here, Alex isn't just some batshit crazy bunny boiler, she's a wounded and emotionally unstable bunny boiler. Making Alex the victim of the piece, is a great move for the stage and confronts audiences with a little more to consider. Mark Bazeley, who has made his name in TV also puts in some solid work as Dan, making him seem not only like an adulterer but also violent and idiotic. On film, Michael Douglas' Dan was a lech and Glenn Close's Alex was a predator, here the lines aren't quite so cut and dry.
Original pen man James Dearden goes back to his inspiration leaving in a layer of ambivalence. The production escalates in the exact same way as the film, though the screeching bathtub finale has been reverted to a climax that had to be reshot after test audiences weren't keen. It's understandable why James Dearden felt stage audiences might be more receptive to such an ending. The final blow is a more poetic event, avoiding the gut punch and visceral nature of the film.
Fatal Attraction for the West End is a unique experience, the story is familiar to pretty much everyone and has been widely adopted into our culture, but it's given new life through engaging performances from Natasha McElhone and Mark Bazeley. Character takes priority over action, in every sense, and Fatal Attraction is softer, slower and less jagged.
GT gives this a: 3/5
Fatal Attraction is at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, London. For more information and to buy tickets, log on to the official website
Words: Joshua Hammond (@pictureshowmag)
See more at Joshua's website www.pictureshow-magazine.com