EM CLARKSON reviews Fatal Attraction at The Theatre Royal, Haymarket.

Fatal Attraction, currently being performed (superbly) in the overtly ostentatious Theatre Royal, has had me in a bit of a state these last 24 hours.

I have a ‘comedy only’ policy on most productions, because I have never really felt the desire to watch something for a couple of hours only to leave feeling terrible. I apply this strategy to most things in life, which is why I have never seen the Fatal Attraction psycho-thriller film of 1987.

In a nutshell, Dan has a lovely wife, Beth (Kristen Davies i.e. Charlotte from Sex in the City), a very adorable 8-year-old daughter and a great job as a lawyer. So, naturally, he goes off and shags a pretty but totally insane blonde chick, Alex (Natascha McElhone), while his wife is out of town.

As karma would have it Dan begins to fall from grace, and REALLY annoyingly, you start to feel desperately sorry for the adulterer, as obsessive, would-be-one-night-stand Alex goes completely batshit crazy.


In a pensive moment, he vehemently tells us how you ‘only hate what you really really fear’ and what he fears is Batshit-crazy Alex telling Beth (she’ll always be Charlotte to me) what he has done.

At this point I, along with the majority of the audience, am struggling with an internal conflict of morals. Obviously I hate Dan; he’s had an affair, which is unforgivable and terrible. However, Batshit is a manipulative, walking psycho-nightmare, and you can’t help but feel sorry for what Dan is dealing with.

By the interval I’m furious, and I’m sad, and I’m feeling a bit sick and it’s all very disturbing.

If I’m honest I didn’t actually see an awful lot of the second half; I had my hands over my eyes. The scary gets turned up a notch, and it all gets very weird and twisted.

For those of you who have stomached the film, the stage ending is very different, so no spoilers there, and equally no disappointments; the ending was awesome, the whole play was!


I only found out this morning that the Dan I saw was actually the understudy. You wouldn’t have guessed, I think the fact that I have felt so many emotions about him since 7.30pm yesterday proves how truly striking his performance was.

In fact, the only issue I had with any of cast was that they were so good I had remind myself of correct theatre (not pantomime) etiquette and therefore remember that it was NOT okay to boo Batshit when she took her bow, so convincing was McElhone’s performance.

Yes, cheating is up there with bunny-boiling in my book and women cheat too, however, taking the increasingly popular gender-switch controversy angle, I’ve found myself wondering if a woman could have got herself into the labyrinthine position Dan managed to; I doubt it, but I don’t know. I love that I’m thinking about it, and confused about it, it was really, really great.

So if you haven’t got the time, make the time. You’ve got to go, not least of all because I desperately need to talk to someone about this.

Fatal Attraction is running until 21st June: http://www.trh.co.uk/whatson/fatal-attraction/