BUNNY boiler is not an expression I care to use, but it does sum up Glenn Close as Alex, the deranged love interest in the 1987 post-feminist backlash movie Fatal Attraction.

In Trevor Nunn’s new stage production, writer James Dearden returns to his original storyline where Alex is a more complex individual or at least we are allowed to see a little further beneath the surface.
In the film she’s a hell bitch who ruins the life of married paramour Dan played by Michael Douglas.

Here Alex is a whole lot more, a lonely, hurt individual putting on a brave face. Most importantly, we see with perfect clarity that as much as she is a flawed person, so too is he.
The set harks back to the ’80s, as does the music, neatly tying the movie in with the now, but not letting it overshadow the eternal nature of this tale.

There is a stand-out line from the script about what happens when we “cease to explore” – it examines the process of how that spark of connection can turn to familiarity and whose fault that can be.
Much of the play’s content asks us to dig deep on moral themes such as fidelity, lust, love, arousal and to ponder where to draw the line. One drink? A meal together? Is it even OK to flirt?

Fatal Attraction brilliantly captures that initial frisson of excitement between two people and the pairing of Mark Bazeley and Natascha McElhone makes for a dazzling dance. These two really have to carry the whole show and they do so admirably.

While I need to restrain myself a little more than Nigella Lawson did on twitter – ’Natascha McElhone gives best performance on stage in living memory’ – I agree that her performance is mercurial. Natascha’s interpretation brings wit, warmth and a frightening sense of self-destructiveness to flesh out this wronged woman, whose emotional and mental stability rests literally on a knife’s edge.

The bond between Dan and his wife (Kristin Davis) is not quite so good. The kiss goodbye at the start needs to be deeply convincing to establish a rapport between them and us, so work is needed here.

Alex Lowe, aka Barry from Watford, tries to chat up Natascha McElhone but fatally she only has eyes for Mark Bazeley. Alex shines in the supporting cast as Dan’s workmate Jimmy who has been around the block, played the field and provides most of laughs in what is essentially a throughly entertaining as well as thought-provoking piece of theatre.
                                     Melanie Dakin

Four stars