As you are no doubt aware this famous story of obsession and revenge explores how a chance meeting in a bar and a casual encounter quickly becomes a living nightmare for Dan Gallagher, a successful New York lawyer and his wife Betty. After spending one weekend with the gorgeous Alex Forrest, he assumes he can just walk away, but Alex is a determined woman who refuses to be ignored and stalks Dan day and night , with the result that his marriage, his job and even his daughter's pet rabbit are not safe from her attentions.
The original script for the 1987 film was by James Dearden and for this adaptation he has retained the core of the stpry but changed the grand finale which didn't appeal to Hollywood test audiences and I must admit the new ending is much more believable and ingenious. But otherwise Trevor Nunn's stage production lacks the edge of the seat tension and driving force of the film. Furthermore it seems difficult to engage with or feel any sympathy for the two protagonists who appear to be authors of their own downfall. I also feel the use of the main aria from Madame Butterfly, an opera with which Alex is obsessed, is a mistake as it pinpoints the general lack of passion in this stage adaptation.
There is however clever use of photographic montage to suggest a wide variety of new York locations aided by sleek sets, as the story moves from bars to to bedrooms and from offices to the Gallagher family's rural home.
Mark Bazely manages to capture the corrosive mixture of guilt and fear but lacks the charm and charisma that Michael Douglas brought to the film, while Natasha McElhone is more restrained and less barking mad than Glenn Close and brings a few touching moments of vulnerability as the manipulative 36-year-old editor Alex Forrest, and Sex in the City star Kristin Davis, here making her West End début brings a sunny warmth to the role of the wronged wife Beth Gallagher.
In short then, this stage adaptation never really eclipses the memory of the brutally effective thriller movie that created such a stir. But it nevertheless serves as a sharp morality tale for errant husbands on the perils of adultery.
Runs at Theatre Royal, Haymarket until Saturday June 21 2014.
Box office: 020 7930 8800Last modified: April 7, 2021