Volume 75, Number 9 | July 20- 26, 2005

FATAL ATTRACTION: A GREEK TRAGEDY
East 13th Street Theatre
136 E. 13th St.
Though Aug. 27
Tues.-Sat. at 8pm, Fri. and Sat. at 10:30 pm, Sun. at 6 pm
$40-49.50, 212-279-4200

Gabe Evans

Alana McNair, back, as Glenn Close and Corey Feldman as Michael Douglas.

Outrageous new Off-Broadway spoof

Play is a satire of the 1987 film “Fatal Attraction”

BY Scott Harrah

When the classic Hollywood thriller “Fatal Attraction” appeared in theaters back in 1987, some critics praised it as a cautionary tale about casual sex and marital infidelity. Nearly two decades later, the film’s celebration of traditional family values seems incredibly dated and downright hokey—something ripe and ready for a 21st century parody. Playwrights and actors Alana McNair and Kate Wilkinson stab the film’s heavy-handed moral themes with a sharp satirical needle in their outrageous Off-Broadway spoof, “Fatal Attraction: A Greek Tragedy.” With former 1980s icon Corey Feldman in the lead role, the play will certainly delight the actor’s many fans and anyone yearning to laugh at the absurdities of the decade known for big hair and corporate greed.
Don’t let the title fool you. There’s nothing “tragic” about “Fatal Attraction: A Greek Tragedy,” other than some lame dance sequences and scary 80s hairstyles and fashions. The intent here is shameless, over-the-top camp. As a send-up of “Fatal Attraction” and its stereotypical characters, the play does actually work at times. For the uninitiated, the 1987 film told the story of a married lawyer who had a one-night stand with a successful businesswoman and then paid a heavy price when she started stalking him and his family. The play celebrates this theme in countless ads in which it is billed as “the play that will not be ignored.” Everything about the movie—from Glenn Close’s atrocious outfits, Michael Douglas’s sexually ambiguous child and his saccharine suburban wife to the infamous boiled bunny scene and the melodramatic climax in the bloody bathtub—is skewered for the sake of lowbrow laughs. The actors actually use the names of the original movie’s own actors. Corey Feldman plays Michael Douglas as Michael Douglas.

“Fatal Attraction: A Greek Tragedy” would have been perfect if it was simply a mockery of the movie, but unfortunately we have an added Greek chorus that comments on the action by using texts from the Greek tragedy oeuvre and turn-of-the-20th-century home-etiquette propaganda. The Greek chorus seems unnecessary, many of their scenes simply make no sense, and do little to “explain” the situation. Woody Allen used the same gimmick in “Mighty Aphrodite,” and the Greek chorus in that film was also pointless. One is left wondering how the authors saw any similarity between the movie and Greek tragedy. Perhaps director Timothy Haskell (who recently amused Off-Broadway theatergoers with the Paris Hilton comedy “I Love Paris”) could have edited out many of the weak Greek chorus sequences. However, with only 70 minutes of material to work with, Haskell manages to keep everything fast-paced, including several silly martial-arts fight sequences that were, of course, never in the original film.

Feldman gives a goofy caricature of Michael Douglas and hams it up in every scene, mimicking the actor’s facial movements, gestures and voice. Kate Wilkinson has Anne Archer’s soccer mom persona down quite well. Two cast members truly standout, however. Alana McNair, as Glenn Close, wonderfully portrays all the overwrought mannerisms, works the character’s big blonde hair, and exudes all the characteristics of one of Hollywood’s most notorious needy nutcases. Aaron Haskell (in little-girl drag as Ellen Hamilton Latzen) is hilarious as the gender-bending child. Because the material here was so tailor-made for parody, the authors unnecessarily diluted some of the satire by padding the story with the convoluted Greek twist. Yet, despite the play’s numerous flaws, it works as fun, lighthearted summer theater fare.

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