Fatal Attraction – the 1987 hit thriller starring Michael Douglas and Glenn Close – was memorable for many things but noteworthy was its introduction into the English language of the phrase ‘bunny boiler’.
Watching the stage adaptation at Northampton’s Royal & Derngate it was easy to miss the origin of the word but not its reference.
Excellent Susie Amy, as bunny boiler and unhinged spurned lover Alex Forrest, screams and snarls her way through two hours of a vintage sex-fuelled, psycho-thriller.
But the key, shock moment (and others) passed without comment or reaction from the audience.
Over in a flash, or I should say a jet of steam from an over-excited stock pot, if you didn’t know the film you would wonder what was occurring.
Fatal Attraction the play, written by James Dearden, is an uneven and lacklustre stab at reproducing the tension and thrill of the movie. Alas there are few peaks, much less troughs, to get excited about. It’s all a bit flat.
The stage production is let down by a wordy script, patchy performances and, it has to be said, age.
Director Loveday Ingram has updated the story to modern times but the concept of a woman wreaking vengeance after being spurned by a two-night stand – is decidedly quaint.
As it the inordinate amount of dialogue spent on her plaguing him with phone calls, texts and Skype messages and he calling her. Hasn’t anyone heard of blocking a number?
There’s a novel twist, which lifts it, but the violence and misogyny against a woman, even one who is deeply flawed and unlikeable, is hard to stomach and leaves a bitter taste.
It’s incredible that we accepted and, indeed, enjoyed the multi award-winning storyline back in the day.
Oliver Farnworth gives a strong turn as corporate lawyer and dirty dog, Dan Gallagher, who spends the weekend with a woman he picks up in a New York bar while his wife and daughter are out of town.
His accent is spot on and his Dan is bold, cocky and self-assured to the point of predatory.
As the story progresses he becomes increasingly unsavoury and unsympathetic until it reaches a point where I had half wished Alex had succeeded with her early knife attack and castrated the bastard.
But it’s Farnworth’s dominance throughout that keeps you interested.
Amy, who earlier on in the UK tour had been playing the minor role of Dan’s wife, Beth, steps up to give a strong performance as the unbalanced Alex.
Personally I’d have chalked the weekend up to experience, a notch on both Alex and Dan’s bedposts, and moved on – particularly as it was she who flirted and seduced in the first place.
But there’s a lot more to Alex than a sexy skirt and come-hither looks and Amy does her best with the clunky dialogue to bring out her humanity.
Sadly Louise Redknapp’s weak turn as Beth lets the play down. The singer/presenter’s lack of theatrical experience in straight drama – she’s only done two musicals prior to this – shows.
She gives a stilted performance delivered in a very quiet voice. I doubt whether anyone past the front stalls would have been able to hear her.
In retrospect the very slight and flimsy plot could have been told in 20-minutes. Instead it takes 20 minutes to get going and then proceeds for a further 100 minutes serving up repetitive dialogue and action.
Nostalgia has a habit of playing tricks on you. What was acceptable in 1987 – and, let’s face it, we forgave Michael Douglas pretty much anything in those days – is hard to swallow, much less enjoy, in 2022.