Theatre Review: Fatal Attraction

fatalattraction

Director: Trevor Nunn

Starring: Natascha McElhone, Mark Bazeley, Kristin Davis

Synopsis: This story of obsession and revenge explores how a chance meeting in a bar and a casual encounter quickly becomes a living nightmare for Dan Gallagher, a successful New York lawyer, and his young family. After spending one weekend with the gorgeous Alex Forrest, he assumes he can just walk away, but Alex is a woman who refuses to be ignored. She pursues Dan and his family with terrifying consequences.

From the 1980s classic Michael Douglas and Glenn Close led adult drama, Fatal Attraction is the latest film-to-stage adaptation to grace London’s West End with an impressive, all star cast.

When one thinks about FATAL ATTRACTION, it is easy to be drawn to that distinctive moment containing some pretty brutal animal violence involving bubbling bunnies. Aside from violence between people, this act, along with the ‘horses head’ bloodbath in THE GODFATHER, are some of the most disturbing to be portrayed in film in the latter decades of the last century.

Natascha McElhone superbly portrays a woman in despair, and during this show’s mammoth running time of 2 and a half hours, the viewer is taken through all extremes of emotions. The underlying tragedy and loneliness experienced by the central character of Alex is poured out in this portrayal by McElhone, and one begins to understand her actions and her anger towards Dan, and a sympathy develops for her and a dislike towards him as the piece develops. The audience seeks comfort and respite with Alex, while she seeks it through Madame Butterfly; yet the beauty of Puccini’s music makes the heartache even more palpable.

The character of Dan is seductive, charming, and successful and yet his anger and violence towards Alex, makes him threatening and psychopathic in his nature, thought fortunately he does redeem himself by showing some elements of remorse, and Bazely captures the character made famous by Michael Douglas in the 1980s original excellently.

Kristin Davis is also charming and a pleasure to watch perform on the London stage. The audience is looking for comfort and relief, as Dan does from his wife, and Davis’s presence and demeanor offers this to us. There is a sweet innocence which the viewer will not bear to see broken, and she plays her part perfectly.

The first half of the production suffers from pacing issues, the script slow and non developing at times. At various points the story lacked the buzz and pizazz expected with a Hollywood adaptation, not helped with its overlong run-time. Some of the bar scenes lacked glamour, there was poor attention to detail in some of the restaurant-set moments, and the office set felt bland. The play certainly has a 1980s feel to it, but with the actors talking on their iPhones and mentioning Twitter; it was very difficult to grasp which century it was meant to be set in, and these subtitles do let the production down.

There could be a sense of comfort to the viewer who has seen the original film, to seek self reassurance knowing about some of the intense portrayals of self harm and violence that is going to be acted out before you, but as one sits in the auditorium, no matter what the expectations, you are uncomfortably exposed to it, and it very much still shocks. This is uncomfortable stuff but a solid re-telling of a classic story that should be sought out on this initial, limited London run.

3 Stars (3 / 5) Fatal Attraction is booking from now until 21 June at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in London.

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