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Review: Fatal Attraction (Richmond Theatre)

We may be inundated with stage adaptations of iconic movies both in the West End and around the UK at the moment, so you may be forgiven for not paying too much attention to all of them. However, Fatal Attraction won't be ignored! Based on the classic 1987 movie starring Michael Douglas and Glenn Close, this stage adaptation was first seen in a limited West End run in 2014. 8 years later, it is back in the form of a UK tour which this week includes a stop in London.



Fatal Attraction is written by James Dearden, who also wrote the movie. It tells the story of Dan Gallagher - a married man whose short affair with another woman turns into an obsession with dangerous consequences. A play with such an intense premise requires some serious acting... and that is where Fatal Attraction comes undone a bit, with two extremes when it comes to acting calibre on that stage.


Susie Amy plays the other woman, Alex Forrest. Following in Glenn Close's huge shoes may be a tall order but Susie does a fantastic job, delivering what is undoubtedly the standout performance of the play. While the acting choices may lack in subtlety, what Susie does with the role feels fitting with the character, giving the audience a real sense of danger. Susie has recently switched to playing Alex having begun the tour playing Beth which is a testament to her talent and versatility as an actress. Having only appeared in musicals in the past, Louise Redknapp makes her play debut as Dan's wife Beth. Louise is admirably decent given the role she has been given though admittedly the character doesn't have much to do.



On the other hand, Oliver Farnworth is disappointingly perplexing as Dan, making some truly odd choices in terms of his characterisation. With no light and shade whatsoever, Oliver shouts every line no matter what the scene is or what the mood calls for, which only goes to lessen the impact in the later scenes when he does unravel. As a character choice, it just didn't work leaving me feeling cold at his soulless portrayal. His acting was eclipsed by his two lovers on stage and did lead me to wonder what on Earth they possibly saw in him. If the reason for this acting is to make it less clear who is the "villain" in the play and create some more sympathy for Alex, it could have been done with more subtlety.


While the supporting cast are great in themselves, they have the misfortune of playing seriously underwritten and unlikeable characters. Anita Booth is given dialogue that at times feels like parody as Beths mother Joan, while John Macauley has to endure an irritating chauvinistic character called Jimmy. In a show that only focuses on the three main characters, nobody else really get a chance to shine in the mere minutes any of them grace the stage which is a shame in itself.



The staging of Fatal Attraction is what truly elevates the play. Directed by Loveday Ingram, an impressive looking set, designed by Morgan Large hosts a fantastic backdrop of video projections from Mogzi, sometimes displaying the cast under moody lighting, other times reflecting video calls and text messages - in that respect it is weirdly reminiscent of Dear Evan Hansen but effective in itself. Brilliant uses of lighting from Jack Knowles doses the stage and cast in a red hue signalling danger and burning bright at other times while some great sound trickery from Carolyn Downing amplifies what could otherwise be fairly dull dialogue. The most effective use of this comes during a chilling speech from Alex where her supporting cast can be heard punctuating her words.


35 years after the film came out, Fatal Attraction hasn't aged well in certain respects. While certain rewrites have been done, attitudes towards women and the blatant disregard to mental health feels dangerously outdated and could have been handled with more sensitivity. Key moments from the film such as that iconic bunny boiling scene are disappointingly anticlimactic here with a scene involving a car and the climactic battle feeling farcical. An odd choice for final moment after the play had seemingly finished left ensured it ended on a low note, when finishing one scene earlier would have been far more satisfying. This was actually the original ending for the movie until it tested badly with audiences so was changed. Perhaps there was a reason for that as the end of the movie worked better than this one did.



It may not be perfect by a long shot but Fatal Attraction is still an enjoyable ride. Fantastic staging and a standout performance from Susie Amy meant there was plenty to be attracted to throughout the play, however the questionable performance from the lead actor, some outdated moments and some disappointing choices ultimately proved fatal. It is still a good show in itself, it could just be a lot better given some minor tweaks. it's still definitely worth a watch, just maybe don't bring anyone who has a pet rabbit.


★★★


Fatal Attraction is in Richmond until March 26th. It continues its UK tour until May with all dates and tickets at www.fatalattractionplay.com


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