Review Roundup: West End's FATAL ATTRACTION
Trevor Nunn directs a cast led by Natascha McElhone as Alex Forrest with Mark Bazeley as Dan Gallagher and Kristin Davis as his wife Beth, in the world stage premiere of Fatal Attraction written by James Dearden, which opened at the Theatre Royal Haymarket on 25 March 2014. Fatal Attraction is currently booking to 21 June 2014.
This story of obsession and revenge explores how a chance meeting in a bar and a casual encounter quickly becomes a living nightmare for Dan Gallagher, a successful New York lawyer, and his young family. After spending one weekend with the gorgeous Alex Forrest, he assumes he can just walk away, but Alex is a woman who refuses to be ignored. She pursues Dan and his family with terrifying consequences.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Charles Spencer, Telegraph: Unlike Glenn Close who was clearly barking from the get-go, Natascha McElhone has a few touching moments of vulnerability as the manipulative Alex Forrest, who hears the ticking of her biological clock. The repeated references to Madam Butterfly, however, seem like a doomed attempt to elevate pulp fiction to high art. Mark Bazeley powerfully captures the corrosive mixture of guilt and fear as Dan Gallagher, but you can't help feeling that if only he had confessed to his wife (a yummy mummy Kristin Davis) and gone to the police as soon as matters got out of hand, all this trouble would have been avoided. There would have been no film, of course, and no play either, but personally I could happily live without either of them.
Michael Billiangton, Guardian: There is something pathetic about the commercial theatre's increasing reliance on movies for source material. You can make a good musical out of a movie, as Billy Elliot has proved, but it puzzles me why people should be expected to cough up to see a transplanted screenplay; and, even though James Dearden has made some adjustments to his 1987 script for Fatal Attraction, it remains an essentially hollow experience.
Paul Taylor, Independent: How do you make a movie audience root for a hero who cheats on his wife? That was the problem facing the makers of Fatal Attraction back in 1987. They solved it by turning the Glenn Close character into a bunny-boiling psycho from a horror film. In a programme note, the author James Dearden admits that from draft to draft, the blame progressively shifted from Dan to Alex "the other woman" who won't accept that a one-night stand is the end of the matter and becomes his obsessive stalker.
Dominic Maxwell, The Times: What a shocker: Trevor Nunn's stage version of Fatal Attraction is a bad idea, poorly executed. Explaining why he wanted to adapt for the stage his own script for the 1987 adultery movie - the one that gave the world the phrase "bunny boiler", the one that featured Michael Douglas as a married New York lawyer having a one-night stand with a vengeful Glenn Close - James Dearden says he wanted to reinstate the "ambivalence" he originally intended for the characters.
Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard: It's Mark Bazeley as Dan who makes the strongest impression - convincing as both seducer and tormented soul. Yet the film's passion is missing. There's some chemistry between him and McElhone, but never enough of it. The recurrent use of excerpts from Madam Butterfly doesn't add the dramatic or intellectual weight it's meant to, and the stage is often cluttered with extras who contribute little except distraction. Trevor Nunn's production is glossy, with a stylish design by Robert Jones. Yet the project at no point feels like a good idea.
Michael Coveney, Whatsonstage: Oh dear. If there was any good news about this clunky stage version of a classic 1987 movie thriller I'd start with it. So would the show itself. Instead, Trevor Nunn's dire production opens with a flash forward to Mark Bazeley as the adulterous Dan Gallagher speaking in over-miked sibilance (to beat the crass sound effects) before decamping to the latest hot new city bar... where his best chum, who took him there, is wearing a sports shirt.
Quentin Letts, Daily Mail: Natascha McElhone is cast, strikingly, as Alex. Miss McElhone, with her Princess Diana/Selina Scott looks, is an amazing adornment to a stage. Does she mine the psychological recesses of this character? She does as much as the script offers her. One of the drawbacks to this play is its mundane language. There is a surfeit of cliche. Playwright James Dearden being English, I wonder if it might have been more interesting if written for London characters. Don is played by Mark Bazeley. He overcomes some wooden scenes when he is chatting up Alex and we are soon in thrall to the fix in which he has landed himself. Don is a moth on flypaper. Kristin Davis is good as his wife and Sophia Pettit last night played his sweet daughter. Robert Jones's sets are impeccable. Sir Trevor Nunn directs.