Phaedra Backwards is Marina Carr’s adaptation of the Greek tragedy Phaedra, and is directed by Emily Mann. The mythological story gets refreshed with a twist, but I think it’s best to read this before seeing it, to help you with the timeline, since the story bounces from the end to the beginning, to the beginning of the end. A summary of the original story can be read here. Just a word of caution. There’s adult language, and a few scenes may not be appropriate for those under 16.
Phaedra Backwards is 90 minutes long, and there’s no intermission. I loved the projections on the back wall showing memories of the past. Since there are no sets to change, you can concentrate on the piece, which is very powerful. The lighting was beautiful, as you can see from the photos. I did find the piece a bit confusing a couple of times, and then remembered the plot, and I was back on track.
Stephanie Roth Haberle, really embraces the non-conformist nature of Phaedra as she seduces Hippolytus, and then at the end gives in to her destiny, and Susan Blommaert, the nanny, injected comic relief in the right doses. I really enjoyed the performances of the entire cast.
One cast member stood out for me. I was mesmerized by Phaedra’s half-brother the Minotour, played by Julio Monge. His stature was truly that of a bull. He had the grace of a talented male dancer performing a Paso Doble, yet his rocking movements followed by a stomp that echoed throughout the theater with a deep tone enhanced his portrayal of a beast.
If you like theater pieces you can sink your teeth into, then Phaedra Backwards is calling your name.
All photos are courtesy of T. Charles Erickson.
UPDATE: Here is the trailer.