Fatal Attraction

Reviewed by Paris Rogers

Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️

I feel lucky that I’ve not watched Fatal Attraction via Film or in the theatre before. It allowed me to have a completely clear slate and no comparison when writing this review.

Fatal Attraction by James Dearden follows Alex Forrest (Kym Marsh) as she takes us on an absolute roller-coaster of emotions ending in becoming unhealthy obsessed with Dan Gallagher (Oliver Farnworth) all resulting from a one night stand. 

The play had an extremely strong start, drawing me in with a spotlight on Dan Gallagher. His voice was clear and crisp and had a way of silencing the audience into their seats. It also started, light, upbeat and with Dan Gallagher in a happy marriage to Beth (Susie Amy). I sometimes struggle to gauge what’s going on in the beginning of a play and what relationship the characters have but the stereotypical marriage between the two was clear from the start and portrayed nicely on stage.

The set was almost black box theatre. Simple yet effective. The simplicity encouraged the audience to use more of their imagination and focus on the actors. It also permitted incredibly smooth scene changes. Video calls were used to transform the story from the 1980’s to modern day. I felt this was not needed and took the focus away from the dialogue and flow of the play. It felt awkward and pardon the pun, staged. However, I can understand that it is difficult to bring every scene of the film to the stage, these calls were a quick interject to keep the story moving.

There was an incredible amount of background noise used which set the scene but again took away the focus from the actors. I felt they had to work twice as hard to carry the scene along. This sometimes came across rushed and their accent fell now and then. 

Speaking of which, it is difficult enough to see facial expressions on stage without a lump of hair constantly covering an actor’s face. This meant the actors body language had an even greater role to play. At times this disappointingly did not match the dialogue. There were uncomfortable movements, especially walks off stage and jarred hand gestures throughout. 

One of the most iconic scenes in the film fell flat in the stage adaptation, when Dans wife Beth discovers her daughters pet rabbit has been boiled alive. I’m not certain how I would react if I found a cute bunny boiled on my stove, but I it wouldn’t be a single scream.

In comparison, Marsh put buckets of detail into her performance as Alex. The dialogue and scenes she had to deliver were undeniably challenging but she managed to make me feel compassion for her even at the evillest parts of her actions. Her approach to the character was not only exceptionally clever and thought through but made me constantly question her motives. Was she just ill and been taken advantage of or was she a calculated woman with hatred for men running through her veins? 

The ending to the play allowed me to interrogate two different scenarios in my mind. This permitted ongoing questions after leaving the theatre. The street was filled with different views and endings, it clearly provoked debates and conversations during and after.

Fatal Attraction is on at the Opera House until Saturday 26th February tickets available here.

Out Of Order

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It’s not often you begin a review at the end of a performance but in this case it’s worth making the exception. Following the closure of Out of Order, Shaun Williamson thanks us all for coming and expresses sorrow on behalf of the entire crew at the tragic events that unfolded just over a week ago. It’s a nice a touch and a gesture of class that certainly doesn’t got unappreciated by the audience at the Manchester Opera House

On to the matter at hand: Ray Cooney has an impressive 70- year career in the theatre with Out of Order certainly being one of his best loved offerings. It began life as a play called Whose wife is it anyway? in 1990 and has lost none of its charm in the last 27 years.

Set in the Westminster hotel, Richard Willey (Jeffrey Harmer) is a Tory junior government minster, intent on having his wicked way with the luscious Labour secretary to Jeremy Corbyn, Jane (Susie Amy). Unfortunately, things do not go to plan for Willey and the rather macabre killing of a burglar by a sash window, sets the cogs rolling for the impending chaos which ensues. Titters abound as the web of lies draws them in deeper. How will they get out of their predicament?

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According to Ray Cooney, ‘the characters must be truthful and recognisable’ and farce is all about ‘ordinary people who are out of their depth in a predicament which is beyond their control’. Updated to include timely comments about our impending election, Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and the inevitable squabbling which happens behind the scenes of an election, this play remains as relevant as ever. There are even a few shots at Boris and UKIP too!

The cast is simply fabulous. Everyone has their favourites, whether it’s the hapless, yet cunning waiter (James Holmes), the ‘dolly-bird’ figure of Jane (Susie Amy) or the sweet natured private secretary George Pigden (played with excellent comic timing by Shaun Williamson). For my money the stand out performance of the night goes to Harmer, despite the slimy, oily nature of Willey you can’t help but route for him.

The cast contains some familiar faces to British ‘Sitcom’ including “Allo Allo” Arthur Bostrom who is on good form as the Hotel Manager, as is Sue Holderness from Only Fools and Horses. If anything Holderness is somewhat underused in her role as Pamela Willey the junior minister’s wife.

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As with all great farces and comedies, the set is simple and is used well: it is rare that part of the staging gets its own round of applause (in this case, a rather sneaky sash window)! Characters bound in and out of doors, windows and cupboards – comedy theatre at its finest. Every character has their comedic part to play and although the action was sometimes predictable, it was charming and no less funny for that.

In these turbulent times, just over a week after the tragic atrocity at the Manchester Arena, Out of Order was a perfect opportunity to raise our spirits,’ and is testament to good, traditional British comedy. It’ll certainly make you think about climbing out of a window for some time to come!

Out of Order is on at the Manchester Opera House until Saturday 3rd of June tickets available here; http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/out-of-order/opera-house-manchester/

Writer: Ray Cooney

Director: Ray Rooney

Reviewer Matthew Forrest