DramaNorth WestReview

Fatal Attraction – Opera House, Manchester

Reviewer: James Mac

Writer: James Dearden

Director: Loveday Ingram

Fatal Attraction, the highest-grossing movie of 1987, nominated for 6 academy awards and winner of People’s Choice ‘favourite dramatic movie’, is perhaps one of the most-watched thrillers of all time… but does this theatrical adaption translate on stage, providing all the thrills and chills that the movie does?

Well, the answer is YES… yes, it does!

This show is a must-see, not only for fans of the film but for anyone who loves a good thriller. Reuniting Corrie stars Oliver Farnworth and Kym Marsh in its leading roles, it’s mostly down to the dimensional performance from the latter in the iconic role of Alex Forrest that makes this production so gripping.

Made universally recognisable by Hollywood royalty Glenn Close, Marsh makes bunny-boiling Alex completely her own. Initially she captivates as the temptress, confidently oozing sex appeal, before seamlessly segueing into Forrest’s calculated chaos, reveling in absurdity, but all the while managing to resonate sheer vulnerability, making this a very well rounded and dynamic portrayal, that in some parts made this reviewer root for her character even more so than the protagonist, Dan. Marsh deserves all the praise for this performance – despite the ludicrous measures of the character, she never lets her performancebubble over into ‘unhinged’ or ‘unstable’ territory as one may expect. Instead, she lets the actions do the talking and pitches her version of Alex with vulnerability and a human need for love and attention, which gave a more current and socially appropriate drama, making us consider her as a human being rather than a stereotypical stock character.

Kudos to director Loveday Ingram who injects a fresh outlook to a tale that could be considered outdated and somewhat misogynistic. The themes of consent, trust, and responsibility take precedence in Ingram’s direction, often raising questions that the film doesn’t, allowing a 21st Century audience to consider a wider perspective, giving more weight to Alex’s mental health and motivation. The convention of fourth-wall-breaking narration from Farnworth’s Danfeatures throughout, attempting a more stage-friendly version of the well-known narrative. Farnworth, a watchable Dan captures the essence of dilemma and sets the stakes high, portraying inward turmoil as he fails to take control of the whirlwind he finds himself in. Susie Amy is a powerful, resilient Beth, earning empathy from the audience by never pitying herself and staying strong throughout.

It’s no doubt that this is a gripping and totally thrilling story, however, this stage adaption, also penned by the writer of the original screenplay – James Dearden, does feel a little bit like it would be more suited on-screen at times. Obviously, the plot dictates that a large proportion of Alex and Dan’s communication happens via telephone, and whilst tension is built, some of the more pinnacle moments could have allowed more gripping action between characters, in the room, had they been rewritten for stage a little more thoughtfully, giving the actors more to play with and ultimately creating more theatrical drama. Still, the face time conversations are brought to life on stage via Mogzi’s conventional video projections that bring the story into today’s world and also allow the production to maintain a slightly cinematic feel, nodding to its screen origins.

Atmospheric lighting from Jack Knowles lets us know destruction is always just around the corner and Morgan Large’s set and costume serve the narrative very well – allowing for fast-paced storytelling. Robbie Taylor Hunt tackles the challenge of staging scenes of a sexual nature on a large-scale commercial-stage, cleverly staging the movements to feel dangerously passionate yet still intimately realistic. A mention also must go to Paul Benzig who creates some very organic fight sequences.

There’s no doubt that this show will have a successful run and the cast deserve praise for their brave choices which contribute to the bold, unabashed feel of this piece.

Please note: no bunnies were harmed in the making of this production.

Runs until 26Feb 2022 and continues on Tour

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The North West team is under the editorship of John McRoberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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