Theatre Royal, Nottingham – until 19th February 2022
Reviewed by Boo Wakefield
In 1987 Fatal Attraction, the film, was a shocking, erotic thriller that put “bunny boiler” into our everyday language. Could this new stage production of the same story, albeit with the original ending and not the Hollywood version, still be as shocking, erotic and thrilling? Not quite.
For those of you who don’t know the original story, Dan is a stressed lawyer who is being pressured into moving out of New York by his wife, Beth, to live near her mother, a move he does not want. Whilst Beth is away house-hunting, Dan meets Alex in a bar and she seduces him. The one-night stand becomes two ending with the unhinged Alex cutting her wrists in an attempt to make Dan stay with her. Dan is then bombarded with endless calls and texts from Alex who stalks him at every opportunity. Eventually Dan is forced to confess to Beth when Alex kidnaps their daughter. This is made all the more hurtful for Beth as Dan has to confess that Alex is pregnant when Beth is desperate for another child.
Dearden and director Loveday Ingram have tried to pull Fatal Attraction into 2022 by using Facetime and texts between Dan and Beth but the use of the original script leaves it back in the 80s. References to “hot-blooded heterosexual American males” and that it’s ok for men to have affairs because “that’s how they are” make a confusing message in today’s world.
The clever use of projected images (Mogzi) on the L-shaped staging, the minimal props which were seamlessly moved on and off stage by the cast who were still in character whilst doing so, and the lighting (Jack Knowles) and sound (Carolyn Downing) all helped to tell the story and set the scenes effectively.
Individually, Kym Marsh (Alex Forrest) and Oliver Farnworth (Dan Gallagher) were believable in the two main characters. Marsh’s portrayal of the seductress spiralling into a mentally unbalanced state was convincing and disturbing. Farnworth, who was on stage almost from start to finish as well as narrating the gaps that needed filling, was admirable and energetic which is what this production needs. But the erotic, passionate connection they should have had was just not there, leaving the intimate scenes felling staged and choreographed.
It was obvious that the audience knew the story well as any reference to the “bunny” caused a stir even before it appeared on stage. It was still as shocking as ever.
Susie Amy who was to play Beth was replaced by understudy Emma Laird Criag for this performance.