Sarah Kane: Phaedra's Love

(1783 words)

Kane's version of the Phaedra story is not a translation of the original Greek tragedy, but a completely new play. Set in modern times, this one-act play in eight scenes reimagines the royal family at the centre of the story by making Hippolytus a depressed narcissist. In the words of his stepmother Phaedra, he is “Moody, cynical, bitter, fat, decadent, spoilt.” On his birthday, Phaedra, who is in the grip of irrational desire, performs fellatio on him. He rejects her, telling her that he's had sex with her daughter Strophe, and that he suffers from gonorrhoea. In the next scene, Strophe informs Hippolytus that Phaedra has hung herself, leaving a note accusing Hippolytus of rape, and that a vengeful mob is rioting in the streets. …

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Sierz, Aleks, Julie Waddington. "Phaedra's Love". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 10 June 2004
[, accessed 30 June 2015.]