fatal pair

Oliver Farnworth as Dan and Kym Marsh as stalker, Alex.

Fatal Attraction

The Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham


Like most, my introduction to this story was the eponymous 1980’s film blockbuster. It was not an obvious contender for a stage adaptation. However the original screenplay writer, James Dearden, revisits the original script to remould it both for the stage and contemporary sexual sensibilities, forty years later.

Since it was originally written two movements have gained prominence, #Metoo, and mental health. Neither have impacted here. This is the 1980's reheated.

There is a current fad for casting twin leads from the same television soap. Last week it was EastEnders stars Adam Woodyatt and Laurie Brent in Looking Good Dead, this week it is Coronation Street stars Kym Marsh as vampy stalker Alex Forrest, originally played by Glenn Close, and Oliver Farnworth who has the considerable shoes of Michael Douglas to fill as Dan and is onstage almost all the time even changing costume there.

The original screenplay was drenched in sexual tension, the stage adaptation takes a more nuanced look at who any of us really are. Its West End stage debut was in 2014, so there has been some time for this adaptation to find its feet.

Farnworth convincingly agonises over the conflict between rational interpersonal relationship decisions, and the irrationality of lust and desire.

Although the artistic junior of the duo he puts in a very strong performance giving Marsh plenty to play off. The narrative arc of the original is pleasingly retained for the most part apart from a neat tweak to the denouement.

Footballers' Wives actress Susie Amy, is a little irritating as Dan’s wife Beth and reacts to the iconic bunny boiling scene with curious reserve (please note that no pet rabbits were harmed in this production!) although it teeters on the edge of parody, drawing guffaws of laughter rather than gasps of horror.

fatel bed 

Paul Englishby’s electronic score is memorable and lush, and very 1980s, reaffirming his place in the vanguard of modern composers, recent credits include Luther for TV and The Inheritance for stage.

Loveday Ingram’s direction leans too heavily on Kym Marsh’s coquettish charms, which are conspicuously on display leaving the supporting cast to have to pedal quite hard to establish their own presence. Ingram allows act one to crawl to a conclusion before act two finds a momentum with a satisfying climax

The metallic stage set by Morgan Large looked cheap and parsimonious, although video screens did facilitate the intelligent use of 21st century mobile phone technology.

For veterans from the audience for the original film, of whom the house overwhelmingly comprised, this was an enjoyable enough revisitation. The production was surprisingly strong and enjoyable, far better than some critics had previously suggested.

There was no mistaking the vigour with which the cast approached this performance ahead of an imminent cast change, with this our last chance to see the energetic Marsh, who leaves the production at the end of this week, 5 March, and will probably relish the opportunity not to have to undress before 8pm every night.

The show then continues its tour around the UK until 22 April, with Amy taking over the lead role of Alex, and Louise Redknapp joining the cast as Amy’s current character, Beth.

Gary Longden


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