FIRST Susie Amy played the cheated wife’s role in the 2022 theatre tour of James Dearden’s Fatal Attraction.
Now, for the second leg, she has switched from Beth to “the other woman”, the Hitchcockian bunny boiler Alex Forrest, still playing opposite Coronation Street soap star favourite Oliver Farnworth, but now joined by Eternal singer, television presenter, actress, 2016 Strictly Come Dancing runner-up and fashion influencer Louise Redknapp as the tour rolls into York next Tuesday for its final week at the Grand Opera House.
“I played Beth for eight weeks from January, and it was great playing her with Kym Marsh as Alex,” says Susie. “But the way it’s worked out, it’s been nice to have the rare chance to play both female leads in the same play and see things from different perspectives – and I’ve really enjoyed working with Louise too.”
The changeover could not have been quicker. “I finished on the Saturday as Beth and started as Alex the next Tuesday after rehearsing the role while playing Beth in the evening,” she says.
“I only had the odd couple of hours here and there, but I did a lot of work on my own with Rachel Heyburn, our assistant director, and I knew the project very well by then, knowing the feel of the piece.”
A household name since her sparkling days as glamour model Chardonnay Lane-Pascoe in ITV’s trashy hit melodrama Footballers’ Wives from 2002 to 2004, Susie, 41, joined the Fatal Attraction cast for the stage resurrection of an American psychological thriller never forgotten from Adrian Lyne’s 1987 movie, the one with Michael Douglas, Glenn Close and Anne Archer.
Beth, you may recall, is the wife of New York attorney Dan Gallagher (Farnworth), their marriage ever so happy until he meets hotshot editor Alex Forrest on a night out that ends up in enflamed passion. Dan returns home, tries to forget his “mistake”, but Alex has different ideas. She has one rule: you play fair with her, and she’ll play fair with you.
So far, so familiar, from Dearden’s original film screenplay, but the tour is presenting his new stage version of a stylish, sinister, steamy thriller that asks: what happens when desire becomes deadly?
“The film was set in 1987; the play is set today with mobile phones,” says Susie. “The writer has been in the rehearsal room, sharing his vision with us, honouring the original but modernising it too, which is important because we think so differently now.
“Whereas Alex would have been called a ‘bunny boiler’ back then, now there’s more emphasis on understanding mental health, so though it’s the same story, now we look at things differently, especially in relation to mental wellbeing.
“Now, we relate more to Alex’s desperate loneliness. Here, a man has come along and shown her interest that she’s really bought into, before he goes back into his family world, and she can’t accept that.”
Alex is placed in a difficult situation, says Susie. “Dan has gone back to the people he’s fairly happy with, and that has left Alex unhappy, which is a not-unfamiliar position – and now we see her side of the story through the eyes of having a better awareness of mental health issues.
“Dan is arrogant. His wife has quit her better-paid job to look after their children, and he’s used to getting his way. Though he genuinely connects with Alex, he wants to forget her, hoping she will never see him again.
“He doesn’t treat Alex well but, at the same time, you shouldn’t stalk someone, though Dan should not have given false hope to her, and Beth ends up very much betrayed. Beth had really trusted him in a relationship where she thought they respected each other.”
By contrast with the “bunny boiler” jibes thrown at Alex in the film, theatre audiences have been giving Susie’s 2022 Alex a fairer hearing. “To be honest, it’s nice to be getting a mixed reaction, because it’s normal for people to think differently; some people have sympathy for Dan, some for Beth, some for Alex,” she says. “Maybe it all depends on our own experiences in life.
“Then you also have to consider that there are some people who have never seen the film, mostly young people, and they may look at it differently to how people did in 1987.”
Putting Susie on the spot, does she prefer playing Beth or Alex? “Alex,” she says. “Just because, as an actor, it’s a such a great rollercoaster of a ride every performance, playing this independent, sassy, sexy woman, who would catch a man’s eye in a really empowered way, but as the play progresses, her mental health fails her and she starts to turn.”
Fatal Attraction boils over at Grand Opera House, York, May 3 to 7, 7.30pm plus 2.30pm matinees, Wednesday and Saturday. Box office: atgtickets.com/York or on 0844 871 7615.
Copyright of The Press, York