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A CurtainUp London London Review
Fatal Attraction

"I had everything I thought I wanted . . . Why would I want to throw all that away?" — Dan
Fatal Attraction
Mark Bazeley as Dan Gallagher and Natascha McElhone as Alex Forrest (Photo: Tristram Kenton)
It is a disaster — a thriller with no thrilling conclusion, just anticipation of the inevitable. Even those in the audience who had never seen the 1987 movie knew that Fatal Attraction originated the expression "bunny boiler" which now describes an obsessive, stalking and possessive ex-girlfriend.

James Dearden has adapted his screenplay for the stage and has given it a different ending. Not even the great director Trevor Nunn can get high drama out of this story, as he did with his recent production of Scenes From a Marriage.

The opening scene is wonderful. A throng of New Yorkers mill about and one man is thrust forward out of the crowd into the limelight and then isolated centre stage as he moves to a beautifully lit bar and pours out his story to a drinking friend. He narrates his history at the same time as re-enacting it.

The foreknowledge is evidenced by the first time the word rabbit is used when Dan talks about his daughter's desire for a pet. This elicits the cross between a sigh and a groan from the audience in anticipation of the sorry end for the fluffy pet.

The other problem for me seemed to be the rapidity with which Natascha McElhone's Alex Forrest shows her nasty and mentally unstable side. The morning after Dan goes back to Alex's apartment after meeting her in a bar, fucking her in an elevator and going to a nightclub, he gets dressed quietly and sneaks back to his own house. His wife and daughter are staying with his mother in law in the country and of course the next day he feels like shit and questions why he has betrayed his wife and his family. The phone calls start immediately from Alex asking what happened and why he left. That night he goes back and instantly she is asking where she stands with him, only the second time they have met. Within minutes she is wielding a large knife and has slashed her wrists to the strains of Puccini's Madame Butterfly.

But do we care about either of them? Or more pertinently, do we believe either of them? Have they not heard about AIDs in 1987 New York or do they think that AIDs only affects the gay population?

He decides to move out of the city and as they put their apartment on the market, he finds his wife showing round his angry stalking Nemesis. It is a good scene watching him squirm in front of his unknowing wife. Sets of neon strip blue archways like those in Curious Incident and sliding panels allow set changes before more attacks getting closer and closer to his family with lies creating more and more of a problem.

Mark Bazeley who was in Scenes From a Marriage is good enough but the very pretty Miss McElhone doesn't have the sinister chill of a Glenn Close and Kristin Davies has a moral high ground part with little depth.

But what does it all convey? The wages of sin is death? Adulterers come to a sticky end? Or beware before you adapt films for the stage?

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Fatal Attraction
Written by James Dearden
Directed by Trevor Nunn

Starring: Mark Bazeley, Natascha McElhone, Kristin Davis
With: Jane How, Sophia Petit, Nana Amoo-Gottfried, Hanna Bourne, Naomi Capron, Jonathan Forbes, Gerard Gilroy, Miranda Keeling, Harry Long, Stephen Omer, Angela Phinnimore, Michael Lee-Mackenzie, Kyle Ross.
Designed by Robert Jones
Sound: Paul Groothuis
Lighting: Paul Pyant
Running time: Two hours 30 minutes with an interval
Box Office: 0845 481 1870
Booking to 7th June 2014
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 19th March 2014 preview performance at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, London SW1 London (Tube: Piccadilly Circus)
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