Fatal Attraction: A Greek Tragedy
nytheatre.com review by Michael Criscuolo
July 7, 2005
Who knew that the 1987 film Fatal Attraction would be so ideal for playful deconstruction? Obviously, Alana McNair and Kate Wilkinson did. As the authors and co-stars of the new comedy Fatal Attraction: A Greek Tragedy, McNair and Wilkinson poke scathing fun at the Michael Douglas-Glenn Close potboiler with lots of self-conscious humor, a Greek Chorus, and some martial arts action. With the help of Timothy Haskell’s inventive, no-holds-barred direction and a more-than-game cast, there are laughs aplenty. However, with all that it has going for it, Fatal Attraction: A Greek Tragedy’s secret weapon turns out to be none other than 1980s pop movie icon Corey Feldman, who looks like he’s having the time of his life in the lead role.
That’s right: I said Corey Feldman. Former child star of such films as The Goonies, Stand By Me, and The Lost Boys, Feldman hams it up beautifully as Michael Douglas (the three lead characters—Douglas, Glenn Close, and Anne Archer—are named after the actors who played them in the movie), doing a hilarious over-the-top impression of his character’s namesake (he even has Douglas’s trademark chin cleft drawn on). His performance is so broad that at any given moment he could be doing Douglas or channeling Lloyd Bridges’s performance from Airplane! It doesn’t really matter because the point is simply to send up Douglas’s image of masculine virility, which Feldman & Co. pull off successfully.
By the way, for anyone who doesn’t know the basic story of Fatal Attraction: a successful corporate lawyer cheats on his doting, perfect wife with an über-businesswoman who happens to be mentally unstable, and turns his life upside down as she begins to stalk him and harass his family. Back in 1987, this whole thing was played seriously (and inexplicably garnered six Academy Award nominations). But the FAATG team sees the silliness in their source material, and jazzes it up by adding a Greek Chorus that comments on the action by spouting Euripides and excerpts from early 20th-century home etiquette propaganda (there’s a perverse comic thrill from watching Michael Douglas mount Glenn Close from behind, screaming his own name in ecstasy and exclaiming “I am GOD!” while the Chorus extols the virtues of creating a comfortable domestic home for the family).
Then there’s the refreshing self-conscious humor that helps bring the proceedings down to earth further as the FAAGT team gleefully makes fun of themselves. In one group scene, a Chorus member stands next to Feldman with a legal pad on the back of which is written “COREY FELDMAN” with an arrow pointing towards the actor. When Close slashes her wrist in a desperate grab for attention, a Chorus member stands next to her with a pump so the audience can see the fake blood gushing. Feldman even busts out a few of his now-patented faux-Michael Jackson dance moves when Douglas first seduces Close (a scene which the Greek Chorus punctuates by repeatedly whispering “Would you like to fuck?” underneath their conversation).
There are also daffy touches thrown in just for laughs. After confessing his indiscretion to Archer, Douglas serenades her with the Styx power ballad “Babe.” In another scene, Archer finishes a conversation by stating, “Well, I’ve got to get back to my potatoes,” and then proceeds to do Tai Chi in the kitchen. Plus there’s a climatic martial arts battle in which everyone (including the Greek Chorus) fights Close.
Clearly, tongues are planted firmly in cheeks, and nothing is to be taken seriously. But, a show as broad and crazy as this one can’t succeed without a cast that is willing to jump off the deep end, and FAAGT is loaded with such eager thespians. In addition to the terrific Feldman, McNair has fun with Close’s fluctuating degrees of intensity. As the-way-too-domestic Archer, Wilkinson is perfect (one of her running gags—repeating saying “Hello?” into the phone whenever there’s no answer on the other end—is a clinic on how to properly milk a joke for everything it’s worth). Greek Chorus members Kellie Arens, Nick Arens, Ebony Cross, and Sergio Lobito all do a great job in their various roles. And, in an inspired bit of casting, Aaron Haskell (of Paris Hilton fame in last season’s I Love Paris) nearly steals the show as Douglas and Archer’s sexually ambiguous daughter.
With Fatal Attraction: A Greek Tragedy, McNair, Wilkinson, and Haskell have the makings of a cult hit on their hands. And Feldman begins an unexpected new chapter in his career. Hopefully we will see their work on New York stages for a long time to come. In the meantime, get yourself down to the 13th Street Theatre and see the show that refuses to be ignored.