Fatal Attraction: A Greek Tragedy

In what probably seemed like a good idea over some beers, "Fatal Attraction" has been turned into a play. With the subtitle "A Greek Tragedy," the 1987 film about a vengeful woman scorned is now a campy spoof, featuring a somber Greek chorus to comment on the bunny-boiling action.

With:
Chorus 2 (Zoltan) - Nick Arens Chorus 3 (Octavious Maximus) - Sergio Lobito Chorus 4 (Persimmon Walters) - Kellie Arens Chorus 1 (Phaedra McQueen) - Ebony A. Cross Ellen Hamilton Latzen - Aaron Haskell Michael Douglas - Corey Feldman Anne Archer - Kate Wilkinson Glenn Close - Alana McNair

In what probably seemed like a good idea over some beers, “Fatal Attraction” has been turned into a play. With the subtitle “A Greek Tragedy,” the 1987 film about a vengeful woman scorned is now a campy spoof, featuring a somber Greek chorus to comment on the bunny-boiling action. The ironic star is none other than Corey Feldman, a faded ex-Goonie doing a spot-on impersonation of Michael Douglas. Everything’s predictably over-the-top, as self-aware ’80s references and hambone performances ensure auds join the cast in laughing at the material.

The primary insight is that the plot of “Fatal Attraction” hinges on the fear that career women are castrating monsters who ruin happy American families. That point is made immediately and with blunt force, since many scenes feature jilted-lover Glenn Close (Alana McNair) speaking in a voice distorted by demonic reverb. Meanwhile, happy homemaker Anne Archer (Kate Wilkinson) gives a Stepford stare as she praises her kitchen, an oversized version of domestic bliss. (Copyright issues presumably forced McNair and Wilkinson, also co-writers, to swap character names for the actors who played them).

Unfortunately, that’s as deep as the satire goes. When the demon voice is used for the tenth time, the point about Reagan-era sexism ceases to entertain, especially since it wasn’t so fresh to begin with. Worse yet for a satire, the authors’ shallow take on their subject may arouse sympathy for the film. Allusions to Greek tragedy, for example, are designed to mock the potboiler plot, but was anyone comparing “Fatal Attraction” to “Medea”? In telling auds what they already know about the film’s failings, the writers can elicit satisfied chuckles. However, the laughs never come with any unexpected surprise.

A shaky thesis in a goofball show might have been less frustrating if bolstered by clever throwaway humor. Except for some good sight gags, though, the meta-jokes are predictable. You know they’ll mention Feldman’s ties to the Michael Jackson trial — it’s just a question of when. Director Timothy Haskell (who helmed “I Love Paris,” as in Hilton) also kills time with utter randomness, like a series of interpretive dances that are desperate for laughs.

And then there’s Feldman. The production proceeds as though his mere presence were hilarious. One cast member even holds a “Corey Feldman” sign with an arrow pointing at the actor’s head. There’s a difference, though, between lazily parading a star across a stage and actually exploring what he represents. It’s the difference between an interesting idea and an entertaining show.

Fatal Attraction: A Greek Tragedy

East 13th Street Theater; 178 Seats; $49.50 top

Production: A Gorilla Prods. presentation of a play in one act by Alana McNair and Kate Wilkinson. Directed by Timothy Haskell.

Creative: Set, Paul Smithyman; costumes, Wendy Yang; lighting, Tyler Micoleau; sound, Vincent Olivieri; props, Faye Armon; fight director, Rod Kinter; choreography, Rebeca Ramirez; production stage manager, Denyse Owens. Opened July 10, 2005. Reviewed July 7. Running time: 1 HOUR, 10 MIN.

Cast: Chorus 2 (Zoltan) - Nick Arens Chorus 3 (Octavious Maximus) - Sergio Lobito Chorus 4 (Persimmon Walters) - Kellie Arens Chorus 1 (Phaedra McQueen) - Ebony A. Cross Ellen Hamilton Latzen - Aaron Haskell Michael Douglas - Corey Feldman Anne Archer - Kate Wilkinson Glenn Close - Alana McNair

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