Fatal Attraction: A Greek Tragedy
This campy extravaganza won’t be ignored!
By Jonathan Warman
This marks the second time I’ve seen a pop culture parody directed by Timothy Haskell without having seen the movie he’s sending up. Granted, I know more about Fatal Attraction than I do about his last target Roadhouse, since Attraction was an out-and-out hit and Roadhouse a cult B-movie. Everybody’s heard about the boiled rabbit, the bathroom bloodbath and other iconic moments. Thankfully, this version of the Michael Douglas-Glenn Close classic is a very loose adaptation indeed, romping all over the embarrassingly sexist subtext of the original. As such, the frenzied comedy in this satire comes almost entirely from playwrights Alana McNair and Kate Wilkinson’s own words, or their wittily selected quotes from Greek tragedy and etiquette guides. ’80s icon Corey Feldman is surprisingly good in his stage debut as Michael Douglas (that’s actually the character’s name), tweaking the macho screen persona of the real Michael Douglas with deadly accuracy. And this just wouldn’t be a Haskell pop extravaganza without the big, campy fight scenes and surreal high-energy line dances that made his Roadhouse such a downtown smash. He’s got a bigger budget here, so the lights flash with more intensity and the axe Glenn Close (McNair) swings at Douglas is a real one. Yipe!
A Close Call
By: Barbara & Scott Siegel
Alana McNair and Corey Feldman in Fatal Attraction: A Greek Tragedy
Sometimes, sophomoric comedy is so intelligently silly that it can graduate to a higher class: junior wit. To wit, we give you Fatal Attraction: A Greek Tragedy. Or, rather, Alana McNair and Kate Wilkinson give it to you -- with everything except a pie in the face. These two young writers have penned an entertaining 75 minutes of nonsense. Their spoof of the Michael Douglas/Glenn Close thriller Fatal Attraction offers moments of inspired lunacy an overlay of mock Greek tragedy, complete with a very opinionated Greek Chorus.
A telltale conceit of the play is the naming of the characters after the actors who played them in the film. Thus, Corey Feldman is Michael Douglas. And how smart are McNair and Wilkinson? Smart enough to write themselves the roles of Glenn Close and Anne Archer, respectively. It was also wise of the women to team up with director Timothy Haskell, who recently directed a similar stage spoof of the cult movie Road House. The new show employs the same sort of low-tech gags that made the previous one a fresh piece of theatrical tomfoolery -- e.g., stage blood is openly pumped out of a bag when Glenn Close slits her wrists. Throughout, the spirit is one of inclusiveness; the laughter comes from all of us being in on the joke.
Feldman is a very funny, bantam-weight version of Michael Douglas; his vocal impression and bared teeth combine to create an image that works. McNair's Glenn Close is hilariously intense, while Wilkinson's Anne Archer is a comic version of June Cleaver. In the role of Ellen Hamilton Latzen, the actress who played the daughter of Douglas and Archer in the movie, Aaron Haskell nearly steals the show. With childish zeal, he walks away with every scene he's in. But what finally brings the comedy up a notch in sophistication is the Greek Chorus made up of Nick Arens, Sergio Lobito, Kellie Arens, and Ebony A. Cross. Tossing off lines culled from the ancients (Euripides) and the moderns (C.H. Fowler and W.H. DePuy, who wrote Home and Health and Home Economics), they bring a tongue-in-cheek satire to what was always a melodramatic cautionary tale.
The comedy flies, aided and abetted by Paul Smithyman's cleverly open set, which allows free movement between Glenn Close's apartment and the home(s) of Douglas/Archer. So, too, the lighting design by Tyler Micoleau always lets us know who and what we should be looking at amidst the fast-moving action on stage. Wendy Yang's costumes are hilarious. Most shows don't have a prop designer, but this one rightfully does, and that person's noteworthy name is Faye Armon. One of the funniest sequences in the show is the climax, an extended comic fight scene; give credit here to fight director Rod Kinter. This take on Fatal Attraction is light, fast, and a lot of fun.
Fatal Attraction: A Greek Tragedy
By: Michael Criscuolo
Published: 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.
The New York Times
Corey Feldman's Fourth Act
By JASON ZINOMAN
Published: July 10, 2005
ON a humid June day, the latest attempt to revive Corey Feldman's career is in full swing in a damp studio on the West Side of Manhattan, where the tongue-in-cheek satire "Fatal Attraction: A Greek Tragedy" is in rehearsals. The problem, though, is that at this particular moment, Mr. Feldman is nowhere to be found.
"Where's Corey?" shouts Tim Haskell, the director of this adaptation of the 1980's thriller that starred Michael Douglas and Glenn Close as his stalker. The cast, which includes the playwrights Alana McNair and Kate Wilkinson, is ready for the run-through, but Mr. Feldman is having a cigarette break outside with his wife, Susie Sprague, a tan 20-year-old who has the kind of hourglass figure found only in anime cartoons and certain parts of Los Angeles.
Mr. Haskell, who has built something of a cottage industry downtown turning pop culture detritus into cult plays like the long-running "I Hate Paris," runs his hand through his hair. A minute later, Mr. Feldman, 33, arrives and rehearsal begins. He plays Michael Douglas (that's actually the character's name), and he does a pretty good impression, jutting his chin out and shouting with yuppie urgency.
Mr. Feldman explains that he can relate. "My ex-wife is a stalker," he said. "She won't leave me alone." His current wife is too, he added. "I never would have gotten married if it wasn't for stalkers."
As anyone who grew up in the 1980's should know, Mr. Feldman starred in "Stand By Me," "The Goonies" and a series of coming-of-age films with a fellow heartthrob, Corey Haim. "Corey now lives in Canada with his mom," Mr. Feldman says. "He has gone in a different direction, but he'll always be my brother."
As is often the case with child stars, his private life became as famous as his on-screen roles. He sued his parents, went to rehab and had a close friendship with Michael Jackson. (More on that in a moment.)
Mr. Feldman, who has hardly gained a pound or a wrinkle since his teenage years, wants people to look past his childhood. He tried image repair by appearing on the first season of "The Surreal Life," a reality show starring down-on-their-luck celebrities. He even married on the show, but it backfired. "We had been engaged for six months, but they said, 'We need a shot of you proposing to her,' " he said. "They made it seem like I was like, 'Let's get married because it would get great ratings.' "
His film work has for the most part dried up (recent titles include "Bikini Bandits" and "Serial Killing 4 Dummys"), so he turned to theater. Danny Pintauro ("Who's the Boss?") and Neil Patrick Harris ("Doogie Howser") have recently done it. Why not a former Goony?
If all goes well with "Fatal Attraction," Mr. Feldman hopes to move into musical theater. "I want to do rock operas. I would kill for the job of 'The Wall,' " he said about the musical version of the Pink Floyd film whose rights were acquired by Miramax and Thomas Mottola last year. "I would do anything. I would jump on the producer's desk naked. I would cut my chest with a razor blade."
Meanwhile, Mr. Feldman says he now tries to stay out of the tabloids, but it has not been easy. In February he made news in an interview with the British journalist Martin Bashir, in which he said that he had come to a sickening realization that the molestation charges against Mr. Jackson might be true. Mr. Feldman, who had a falling-out with Mr. Jackson in 2001, says that he was shocked by the verdict. But he sounds even more upset at Mr. Bashir. "Bashir approached me with doing a 20/20 retrospective about my career," Mr. Feldman explained. "He said he would ask about Michael, but it would only be a small portion of the show. We shot 36 hours of footage, and it was a 20-minute Michael Jackson piece. Tricked again."
"I'm gullible," Mr. Feldman says. "The world needs a scapegoat, plain and simple. Somewhere, there was an electoral ballot, and I was nominated."
The Star Ledger|
'Fatal,' yes, but funny
Monday, July 11, 2005
BY MICHAEL SOMMERS
NEW YORK -- The month of August is often termed the "silly season," when everyone's shrink is on vacation and people's summer-softened brains incline toward especially light amusement.
The silly season officially began yesterday, however, with the opening of "Fatal Attraction: A Greek Tragedy" at the East 13th Street Theatre.
A lampoon of the 1987 film melodrama regarding the perils of adultery, "Fatal Attraction: A Greek Tragedy" merrily deconstructs the story, employing overblown performances and ancient dramatic trimmings to make its cautionary tale appear all the more absurd.
Corey Feldman -- he of '80s smart-alecky kid movie fame -- portrays a character named "Michael Douglas," a lawyer who resides comfortably with his happy hausfrau spouse "Anne Archer" (Kate Wilkinson) and their tyke "Ellen Hamilton Latzen" (Aaron Haskell in girly drag). At a party, the smug lawyer encounters sultry "Glenn Close" (Alana McNair) and they proceed to enjoy a sweaty fling that turns dangerous when the spurned woman begins stalking him and his family.
Written by McNair and Wilkinson, the spoof traces the movie's subsequent events in a swift 70 minutes. Oh, yes, that pet bunny gets boiled, a hysterical Archer crashes her car, and there's an extended slo-mo Kung-Pow fight sequence centered around a bathtub.
Meanwhile, a four-member Greek chorus garbed in black weeds offers comically portentous gloom-and-doom comment on the action and characters. The setting mixes classical columns and steps with the interiors of Close's stark Meatpacking District loft and Douglas' variously chintz-adorned abodes.
Inventively staged by director Timothy Haskell, the show amusingly suggests key moments from the film, such as those ever-tighter close-ups of Close's eyes by using a series of cardboard blow-ups of the actress' face. The attempted suicide and homicide sequences are augmented by obvious squirt-bulbs of fake gore. Sharp lighting by Tyler Micoleau and witty sound effects by Vincent Olivieri enhance this send-up of a pop culture icon.
Making his stage debut, Feldman delivers a nifty caricature of Douglas' typically grimacing expressions and jerky body movements. Wilkinson depicts Archer with a perpetually dazed look. Best of all, there's McNair, who portrays Close as a glittery-eyed Amazon with a cloud of over-permed hair and a demented personality that is not so much split as shredded.
Perhaps the co-authors want to provide insights to the chauvinism and sexism inherent to the film. But let's be real: "Fatal Attraction" was trash in the first place, so it's hard to be even the tiniest bit profound about its excesses. Still, with its clever staging and intentionally over-the-top acting, "Fatal Attraction: A Greek Tragedy" manages to be perfectly ridiculous.
Fatal Attraction: A Greek Tragedy
by William Stevenson
Has the grim news about terrorist bombings and hurricanes gotten you down? Feel like the 21st-century isn't off to such a great start? If so, this silly parody of the 1987 film Fatal Attraction provides a welcome mid-summer escape from present-day reality. Even though it sometimes strains too hard for laughs, the 75-minute show is a breezy, campy hoot.
Alana McNair and Kate Wilkinson co-wrote the takeoff, and they also co-star as Glenn Close and Anne Archer, respectively. Yes, this version calls the characters by the actors' names. Playing Michael Douglas is none other than '80s child star Corey Feldman, making his latest comeback effort off- Broadway. And Aaron Haskell cross-dresses as Archer and Douglas' daughter, Ellen, accentuating the character's androgynous qualities.
The four other cast members (Nick Arens, Sergio Lobito, Kellie Arens and Ebony A. Cross) make up a Greek chorus, commenting on the story of adultery and its repercussions in typical Greek-chorus fashion. Some of what they say is lifted directly from Greek tragedies. Director Timothy Haskell also makes use of the chorus in clever ways: They contribute sound effects, sing, dance and even take part in fight scenes. (Rod Kinter staged the amusing climactic fights, while Rebeca Ramirez choreographed the cute dance numbers.)
McNair and Wilkinson's script contains plenty of daffy humor. For instance, Archer informs Ellen, "A pet, like nuclear power, is a big responsibility." Close--who has a torrid affair with Douglas that threatens his cozy marriage--is repeatedly referred to as a "working woman." Her white jacket and pants underline her professional status, while Archer wears an assortment of dowdy housewife ensembles. After Douglas pulls back from the affair, Close warns, "I will not be ignored, Michael Douglas." A scary, deep recorded voice accompanies her for horror-movie effect.
Well-chosen '80s music plays a central role. The chorus sings selections from Miss Saigon, which briefly figures in the plot. And the nearly tone-deaf Feldman manages, barely, to warble Styx's "Babe." There's also a hilarious dream ballet performed to Art of Noise's "Moments in Love."
Fatal Attraction: A Greek Tragedy hits a number of such loony high points. It doesn't hurt that the movie is so ripe for parody. On the other hand, McNair and Wilkinson rely on repetition too often, especially when characters keep saying "Michael Douglas" over and over again.
Luckily, the repetitions don't drag down the spoof, thanks in part to the lively cast. Given his cult status as the teen star of The Goonies and other movies, one might assume that Feldman was given the leading role simply to sell tickets. But the actor, sporting artfully moussed hair, is actually quite funny in the role. Granted, he's shorter than his female co-stars and his Michael Douglas impersonation is so extreme that he almost sounds like Kirk Douglas. Nonetheless, he has a lot of fun with the part, throwing himself into the physical comedy (including simulated sex).
McNair and Wilkinson are equally entertaining. With their huge frizzy perms and tacky '80s outfits (designed by Wendy Yang), the actresses get laughs before they even open their mouths. But their deadpan line readings are perfect as well. McNair hams it up as the increasingly psychotic Close, while Wilkinson plays Archer as a dippy, half-witted hausfrau. Haskell has a few choice moments as Ellen, especially during the dream ballet.
Paul Smithyman designed the low-budget set, consisting of Close's minimalist white loft (with a painting of a knife dripping blood hanging over the bed) and the Norman Rockwell-esque home of Douglas' family (with hideous floral wallpaper). Even Faye Armon's props are funny--well, at least the gigantic roast that Archer carries around made me laugh.
And yes, as in the movie, an adorable pet bunny plays a pivotal role in the tragicomic goings-on. It's no secret what happens to the bunny. But it's something of a surprise that McNair, Wilkinson and company have mined so much wacky humor from a familiar '80s thriller.