Arts Reviews

Fatal Attraction: A Greek Tragedy Reviewed

By Doug Strassler Aug 15, 2005, 5:09 GMT

Adrian Lyne's 1987 film Fatal Attraction put boiled bunnies and high-speed elevator sex on the map, in addition to turning Glenn Close into a sex symbol for a brief moment.  Though a more polished version, it was also nonetheless a blatant copycat of Clint Eastwood's Play Misty For Me, and its massive box office gross paired with its Best Picture nomination helped usher in a generation of even more derivative [fill in the blank]-from-hell thrillers.

None of which is the least bit important when it comes to Fatal Attraction: A Greek Tragedy, currently playing at the East 13th Street Theater.  It is the latest entry in a trend of kitschy 1980s movie revivals like The Breakfast Club and The Karate Kid, but this Attraction has something extra going for it; it brings along an actor from the 80s as well.

Said relic is Corey Feldman, the child actor better known for carousing with Corey Haim and a less-controversial Michael Jackson and dabbling in illegal substances at a young age than for his movies (which included The Goonies and Stand By Me).  Make no mistake, writers Alana McNair and Kate Wilkinson leave no campy stone unturned in this incarnation.

Alana McNair, Kate Wilkinson, Corey Feldman, and Aaron Haskell
This is most obvious in the naming of its characters, two of whom are played by the writers themselves.  McNair plays the Close role of the mistress, while Wilkinson portrays the Anne Archer role of the cuckolded wife.  However, instead of using the characters' names, Attraction takes a more meta approach and renames the characters after the actors who play them.  This means the show mocks the original film's plot, plus its acting, music, costume and hairstyles.  It also means that audience members have the particular pleasure of watching Feldman play a character named Michael Douglas.  This leads to a particularly great moment when Feldman shouts Douglas' own name out during the sex scene.

That last sentence should not give anything away.  For anyone who slept through the Me-Decade, the gist of Attraction can be summed up with this blueprint: Michael Douglas is a successful Manhattan lawyer with a wife and daughter (named after the young girl who played the daughter in the movie, Ellen Hamilton Latzen, but played by get this! Aaron Haskell, an adult male).  He has an affair one weekend, after which his mistress rapidly becomes psychotic and stalks him and his family, until she, in typical filmic fashion, must be stopped.

The script itself is merely a skeleton, but if McNair and Wilkinson are to blame, they also deserve praise for their performances, as well as their appearance, including designer Wendy Yang's tacky '80s outfits and frizzed-out hairstyles that hit the stratosphere.  Additionally, Feldman clearly relishes his role.  Director Timothy Haskell also helps pepper the play with several inspired strokes, including a dream ballet, some samurai-style Kill Bill maneuvers (choreographed by Rod Kinter), and, as the title implies, a Greek chorus.  Kellie Arens, Nick Arens, Ebony A. Cross and Sergio Lobito comprise this quartet, sometime quoting direct Greek verse in addition to aiding with the soundtrack and playing bit ensemble parts.

What Attraction lacks in depth and originality, it certainly compensates for with winking humor.  Still, I'd love to see what kind of substantive work McNair and Wilkinson, two graduates of NYU'S Tisch School, can come up with.  Until then, though, audiences could do much worse than to check out this good, dirty fun.  Come on, it stars a Goonie!

Fatal Attraction: A Greek Tragedy is playing at the East 13th Street Theater. For tickets visit www.fatalattractiontheplay.com.



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