Opera House, Manchester
Until Saturday 26th February 2022
Nominated for six OSCARS at the 60th Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress, Adrian Lyne’s influential 1987 potboiler Fatal Attraction went on to become one of the most acclaimed and successful thrillers of its era, spending eight-weeks at the top of the US box office and ending the year as the highest-grossing film worldwide, ahead of the likes of Dirty Dancing, Three Men and a Baby and Beverly Hills Cop II.
Writer James Dearden adapts his own Academy Award-nominated screenplay (which was itself adapted from his own 1980 short film Diversion) for this stage adaptation of the hit film, which had its world premiere at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in London’s West End back in March 2014.
For those unfamiliar with the premise, Fatal Attraction centres around Dan Gallagher, a married, workaholic Manhattan lawyer who has a two-night stand with alluring publishing editor Alex Forrest while his wife and young daughter are out of town one weekend. Attempting to return to normal family life and leave the affair behind, the unfaithful Dan quickly discovers that Alex has different ideas, and he soon finds his life spiralling out of control at the hands of an obsessive and psychopathic temptress.
Putting a new spin on one of cinema’s great villains – and one of Glenn Close’s signature roles – is certainly no easy task for any actor, but Kym Marsh does an excellent job as the infamous “bunny boiler” Alex Forrest in what proves a very assured and confident performance. It would be quite easy for the character to just become an exaggerated caricature or stereotype, but it never does, and Marsh drives the production with a controlled and multi-layered performance that elevates the piece whenever she is on stage.
Oliver Farnworth is a strong and charismatic lead as Dan, bringing a different energy to the role created by Michael Douglas in the film, and there is good support from Susie Amy, Anita Booth, John Macaulay and Troy Glasgow.
Dearden’s adaptation doesn’t always sparkle, but it does remain very faithful to the film (perhaps too faithful) and retains a lot of the original source dialogue, as you might expect. Most of the famous sequences are dutifully recreated – including the most famous, which sadly feels rather rushed – though the play does change track in the final act to reflect the alternative ending that was originally scripted and filmed, though later removed following feedback from audience test screenings.
For the most part, director Loveday Ingram’s touring production is slick and well staged, making good use of Morgan Large’s clever, panelled designs, but it is does feel rather tame by the film’s standards, and there are some strange creative choices which don’t add a great deal and are never quite justified. For instance, why move the action to the present day? Is it simply to introduce mobile phones and utilise real-time FaceTime video calls in the video projections? Fatal Attraction is perhaps the quintessential eighties thriller and there just doesn’t seem to be any real justification behind the move.
Fatal Attraction‘s biggest flaw is that it lacks the raw intensity and that sense of foreboding and threat that made the film so utterly captivating. What’s more, it doesn’t really offer anything new for those familiar with the film. We’re never on the edge of our seats as we know exactly what is about to happen at every turn (something that is certainly not helped by the running commentary from audience members announcing key moments before they have happened!) and even the biggest thrills are never ramped up enough.
Running Time: 2 hours and 20 minutes (approx.), including one 15-minute interval.
Final Performance at the Opera House, Manchester: Saturday 26th February 2022.
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