Review: Fatal Attraction is a tense and breathtaking experience on Northampton stage

Emily-Jane Clark reviews Fatal Attraction at the Royal & Derngate, Northampton

By Peter Ormerod
Friday, 1st April 2022, 10:15 am
Susie Amy and Oliver Farnworth in Fatal Attraction (photo: Tristram Kenton)
Susie Amy and Oliver Farnworth in Fatal Attraction (photo: Tristram Kenton)

Obsession, passion and a spot of bunny-boiling take to the to the Derngate stage this week in a stage adaptation of classic 1980s thriller Fatal Attraction.

It’s the story of how happily married New York attorney Dan Gallagher’s life changes forever when he meets sexy editor Alex Forrest and embarks on a night of passion. Later, Dan returns to his family and hopes to put his ‘mistake’ behind him but Alex has different ideas.

Having never seen the original film, I didn’t quite know what to expect other than a psycho temptress boiling up a bunny. However, there is a lot more to it than that.

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The script explores the reasons behind Alex Forrest’s actions. Played by Susie Amy, we get an insight into her (clearly troubled) mind and discover she is also grieving a previous miscarriage. While this may not excuse her boiling up a child’s pet rabbit on her ex lover’s hob, it gave the character a lot more depth and evoked empathy from the audience.

While I think the play attempts to blur the lines between who is the victim and aggressor, I remained firmly on team Alex. I disliked Dan Gallagher, played brilliantly by Oliver Farnworth, and felt no sympathy for him whatsoever. He chose to sleep with another woman and to lie to his wife, yet he constantly feels sorry for himself and angry at Alex - when really, he should have been urging her to get psychological help!

Given that Fatal Attraction was clearly adapted for a far more feminist era than the original '80s film, I was hoping Dan’s wife Beth Gallagher (played by Louise Redknapp) might be a stronger force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately, she was very much the dull housewife.

While the acting was good, the on-stage tension was really brought to life by the outstanding sound design and music.

Sound designe, Carolyn Downing, did a brilliant job of creating a creepy and tense atmosphere throughout the show. One breathtaking scene, where Alex leaves a manic phone message for Dan as the whispers of a woman scorned fill the auditorium, sent shivers down my spine.

Composer Paul Englishby also had the audience on the edge of their seats with an atmospheric and thrilling soundtrack.

The entire show is a real collaborative project and shows how a good production, set and sound team is key to bringing a play like this to life.

Whether you are a fan of the original film or just fancy watching a dark and unique piece of theatre, then I would recommend going to see Fatal Attraction.

* Fatal Attraction runs until Saturday April 2. Visit royalandderngate.co.uk to book.