Fatal attraction – Theatre Royal Haymarket

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The film to stage craze continues with the bunny boiling Fatal Attraction being the latest iconic flick to get the treatment. I suppose we should be grateful that this isn’t Fatal Attraction ‘the musical’, although that may have given this disastrous lump a bit more life to it. Instead we are left with something that is as limp and lifeless as the little white bunny gently simmering on the stove.

Sat within the home of the West End classic at the Haymarket and secure in the knowledge that one of our greatest theatre directors is at the helm you sit with apprehension but with a quiet confidence that it’ll all be alright and that just maybe Sir Trevor will reveal to us a thriller of psychotic proportions. Alas not. Instead we are left with something that is badly directed, badly written and badly acted. You get the sense that Trev has realised what a stinker he’s got on his hands early into the game and simply given up.

The film and the story are the stuff of legend now. Indeed that phrase ‘bunny bolier’ has been incorporated into mainstream culture on the back of it. It has been widely reported that writer James Dearden was forced to change his ending in the film to please the studio bigwigs much to the displeasure of leading lady Glenn Close. For the stage adaptation Dearden has been able to offer the ending he really wanted for the damaged character of Alex. Here the stage version improves on its celluloid predecessor by creating a fragile and clearly mentally ill woman scorned rather than a mere psychopathic loon.

Natascha McElhone makes an impressive and relaxed start as Alex. She is awkward yet uncompromising as she sets to pick up the unsuspecting but married Dan in a Manhattan bar. With her beautifully elegant frame gliding around the stage you will McElhone to impress but she never does. As the drama ratchets up and the tensions build she falters and fails and becomes progressively more unbelievable.

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Mark Bazeley is more successful as Dan with a solid performance that only just stays on the right side of becoming shouty. As his life disintegrates around him Bazeley desperately tries to hold on to our sympathy but it is of course a vain attempt as ultimately he is the wrongdoer here and is nothing but a dirty rotten cheat. Mind you his wife is played so two dimensionally by Kristin Davis who can really blame him in that!

The ensemble busy themselves around the slickly designed stage with little focus looking like they are making it up as they go along. Principles repeatedly walk onto the side of the stage and talk into mobile phones in order to move the clumsily structured book forward. The tension simply isn’t there and the surge of passion that should ignite the doomed affair is sadly lacking. As the story reaches its climax the fight scenes are badly choreographed and look maladroit.

This has been a brave attempt to stage something that could be a terrific thriller but more importantly a human and relationship driven drama that should be full of emotion and passion. It has ended as nothing more than awkward and lifeless with little attraction.

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