Fatal Attraction - 25 March 2014 Review

This bunny never quite reaches boiling point...

With the film having coined the now notorious notion of the Bunny Boiler, I was very excited to see an onstage adaptation of James Dearden’s Fatal Attraction; who doesn’t love a bit of psycho b*ch of an evening! I was especially eager to see this production for three varying reasons, one, I was expecting a very high degree of onstage tension which is a bit of a rarity these days. Two, I heard Dearden had re-written the ending of the piece (spoiler alert) in order to be more sympathetic towards power woman Alex Forrest’s death and finally three, as silly as it makes me sound, because Kristin Davis is in the show and I LOVE Sex and the City!

So, what of this onstage tension I was so yearning for? For those of you that have seen the film, you will know it is absolutely fraught with angst and apprehension. Even for those who haven’t seen the film, I imagine there was some sense of anticipation, considering the well known subject matter. I was fully expecting to be on the edge of my seat. I am sorry to report that my bum sat dejectedly at the back of it. Disappointing.

I’m not 100% sure what it was that made the atmosphere fall flat, but perhaps it was because Dearden’s script stuck a bit too religiously to the film without the recognition of a live audience. I felt the pace was slow because of the dense dialogue in some scenes, which really did  make them drag on.

Whilst I felt Dearden missed the opportunity to embrace live theatre in his script “adaptations,” an awkward nod to the art form was provided in many a Madame Butterfly reference, which was a bit strange and unnecessary. You know sh*t has hit the fan when there is a red moon and some falling petals involved in a climax…

The set, designed by Rob Jones, was interesting, but didn’t necessarily do enough to lift the piece from film retelling to theatrical extravaganza, which is what I was kind of hoping for. That said, full marks to Jones for providing a fabulous array of kitchen utensils and a fashioning a fully functioning tap! However the fact that these stood out to me as particular highlights of the piece goes someway to demonstrating how engaged I was in the overall narrative…

So what of the deranged protagonist Alex Forrest, a working woman and seductress turned psycho? Hm. Natascha McElhone started well; slinky, sexy, swift…however her plunge into the inner depths of cuckoo land was a bit quick for my liking  and overall I felt she was more of an annoyance than a true threat. Plus the pinnacle of her madness, the, er, unfortunate incident with the bunny, seemed somewhat rushed and throwaway.

Good news for Sex and the City fans, Davis pretty much brings Charlotte to the stage here, although in a kind of jilted sad universe where she chose not to marry Harry, instead opting for a love rat city broker. That said, Davis fulfils the role of Beth with conviction, the part just doesn’t best demonstrate her capability as an actress.

If the show were to win an award, it would be for THE most underused ensemble ever to grace the payroll of a West End show! There is a collection of about ten mysterious bodies on stage, that are seen for a total of about fifteen minutes in all two plus hours of the play. I can’t help but feel this was a wasted opportunity…
This show had serious potential; a great story, top class actors and a veteran director in the form of Sir Trevor Nunn. Sadly it lacked the substance of its motion picture predecessor and had nothing new to add to the equation. With the cost of theatre tickets soaring, making them an almost unattainable expense for a young worker like me, I recommend just buying the DVD.

star-rating-2.5
25 March 2014, Theatre Royal Haymarket