The 1987 thriller Fatal Attraction concluded its first national tour following a 2014 debut in London at the Grand Opera House York this week; based on the movie and penned by same writer (James Dearden) as the classic, known for the coining of the “bunny boiler, Fatal Attraction had some fatal mistakes that made it a tough watch.
Fatal Attraction depicts the story between Manhattan Lawyer, Dan Gallagher (Oliver Farnworth) and Editor Alex Forrest (Susie Amy) as they embark on a night of passion when Gallagher’s wife Beth (Louise Redknapp) is out of town visiting parents. Alex goes on to become a thorn in Dan’s side, turning his life upside down and ultimately leads to a fatal ending.
Farnworth is the narrator of the piece, that sticks fairly true to Dearden’s original screen-play, but for the ending. The narration keeps the play moving, and the audience engaged with the feeling and mood of Gallagher’s character. Outside of the narration, Farnworth’s display was uninviting and unbelievable. Passion is a word used over and over when reading synopsis’ of this tale, but his interpretation of the character was devoid of this and dry in nature. With Beth, the husband and wife act wasn’t portrayed well and with Alex, he was overshadowed by the superb performance of Amy.
New York is the setting and whilst the 1987 movie was set for the era, the theatre production has moved to the present day with staging reflecting video calls, WhatsApp and mobile technology an ever-present and the hi-tech screens make it an engaging watch. This was, in reality, the highlight of the production, with light, sound and technology used to move the story along at a good pace because the scripting and acting was unfortunately not doing so. With some scenes, namely those in the bar and the more dramatic numbers being well thought out, the overall pace of the show was rushed and quite irritable to watch, with the final scenes crammed into minutes rather than what could (and should) have been half of the second act.
What was notable too was the laughter in the room when Alex became the “bunny boiler”. This is a scene of true horror and disgust, and rather than coming across that way, it was a humorous scene, definitely not landing with the right tone for the audience. Through no fault of Amy, this ruined the final scenes for me and with question marks about how Dearden was going to close the play, the drama had all but seeped out by the less than dramatic end.
Having never seen the film and taking much of these words from people I was around and with on the night, it seems that Dearden maybe played this one safe and simply “lifted and shifted” the story from 1987 with modifications made for the present day. Rather than really engaging the audience, it was hoped prior knowledge of the script and some tweaks in technology would be enough to recreate this thriller. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case and it fell flat overall. Amy was great and character development was there for the taking with the quality of her acting, maybe in future this can be explored but for now, as the run ends, it’s time to reassess and regroup on how Fatal Attraction can become a stage classic.