Fatal Attraction – Richmond Theatre, London

Reviewer: Mike Wells

Writer: James Dearden

Director: Loveday Ingram

Penned by the same writer who wrote the original 1980s’ multiple Academy Award nominated movie, Fatal Attraction was originally staged at the Theatre Royal Haymarket back in 2014 and received a lukewarm response. Eight years later it’s embarked on a national tour with a different cast and creative team.

For fans of the original movie, the story is the same apart from the ending, which reverts to James Dearden’s original draft which was changed for the movie off the back of test screening feedback.

We open on Dan (Oliver Farnworth) and Beth (Louise Redknapp), married with one child and trying for another, but neither seem particularly happy where they are. She’s hoping to swap their city flat for a house in the ‘burbs while he is trying to cling onto his life in the city. While she’s away for the weekend house hunting and visiting her mother, he goes for a drink with a friend who bails early. He could have followed, but the arrival of Alex (Susie Amy) catches his eye and after finding out they have a few things in common, one thing leads to another, and they end up back at hers.

While for him it is nothing more than a two-night fling, she’s desperate for something more. Weeks of chaos ensue with harassment, blackmail, kidnapping, bunny boiling, and more which crescendos to a brutal conclusion.

The movie was praised as a sultry thriller. Unfortunately, the play is anything but. The sex scenes are so devoid of passion, the closest the show gets to ‘steamy’ is when the bunny’s boiled, while the fight scenes are about as believable as the actors’ chemistry.

In an attempt to render it more relevant to a modern audience, it’s set it in the current day with gimmicky videocalls and covid fist bumps. Why they felt that necessary is anyone’s guess as it adds nothing of value to the show.

The supporting actors are solid, but the three leads make for excruciating watching. Two of them spend the whole show shouting at each other while the other is barely audible. Some of the issue is direction, but most lies at the hands of the performers.

Fatal Attraction is the epitome of everything that’s wrong about modern and mainstream theatre. Producers opting to make shows purely on the back of commercial appeal rather than artistic merit are slowly strangling this industry.

In the programme Dearden says of his re-write, “The play is in some ways an attempt to redress the balance a little in her [Alex’s] favour, so there are no villains and no heroes, only shades of grey”. In this respect the play achieves exactly that, for if you had to attribute a colour to this show, grey would be it.

Runs until 26 March and continues to tour

The Reviews Hub Score

Fatally flawed

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The Reviews Hub - London

The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. 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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  1. Hi Mike,

    It’s good that not everyone has the same views as I sat in the front row of Wednesdays performance of Fatal Attraction and thought is was an amazing show with both leading role performers acting extremely well and with a thunderous applause at the end I would certainly give the show 4 out of 5 stars.

  2. I wholeheartedly disagree with this review. I was in the stalls on Tuesday nights performance and from where I was sitting the two leads were absolutely excellent. And from the other audience members around me I don’t feel I was alone in thinking that. A one star review for this seems utterly bizarre.

  3. Indeed we all have different views. I just saw this in Aylesbury and thought the review was pretty accurate. Perhaps one star is harsh, but certainly no more than two

  4. I saw it tonight… I thought the end was a bit of a cop out.
    I’d have enjoyed it more if they’d moved the story to London, ditched the fake American accents and made more of the physicality. They transferred the story to current day so I can’t see why they didn’t go the whole hog and switch it across the ocean.

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