I’ll say one thing for Trevor Nunn’s stage production of ’80s thriller ‘Fatal Attraction’: it’s put me off adultery for life. Mostly because I’m worried I might have a flashback to Trevor Nunn’s stage production of ’80s thriller ‘Fatal Attraction’.
In fact, it’s unfair to veteran director Nunn to single him out for blame – he does his best, all things considered, directing the action with a neon-y slickness, a bit like Rupert Goold’s granddad. The problem with ‘Fatal Attraction’ the play is ‘Fatal Attraction’ the film: on this evidence it’s simply not suitable for adaptation for the stage.
Writer James Dearden has spoken out about Hollywood monkeying around with his original screenplay to make Michael Douglas’s cheating husband Dan more sympathetic and Glenn Close’s jilted one-night-stand more crazy. But his own stage adaptation hardly redresses the balance: the play is presented entirely from the perspective of Mark Bazeley’s ever-soliloquising Dan, and though Natascha McElhone’s Alex is initially rather sympathetic, Dearden never offers us any insight into what she’s going through, or why she flips from agitated to psychotic.
By the second half it’s degenerated into crazy-stalker-lady-behaves-crazily-while-rugged-Dan-shouts-a-lot. We already know how far Alex will go – the bunny is duly boiled – and both sympathy and suspense ebb away for a thoroughly tedious conclusion.
In some ways the biggest shame is that talented actors Bazeley and McElhone aren’t being more gainfully employed, because they are good. He’s great, all sleazy, self-deluding charisma; she’s genuinely winning in the early stages: a fragile, boho depressive who deserves better than her treatment by Dan. Their co-star, Kristin Davis from ‘Sex and the City’, has little to do beyond act cutesy as Dan’s saintly wife Beth, which she does well enough. But all that their efforts – and those of Nunn and designer Robert Jones – can do is put a slick gloss on an irreparable script.