Sarah Kane’s adaptation of Seneca’s Phaedra by Fear No Colours
This article is from 2015.
Sarah Kane once described Phaedra’s Love as 'My Comedy', though in watching this production, or even by simply reading the text, it can be extremely difficult to find the funny side. It is possibly her weakest piece of work and any effort that had previously been put into Fear No Colours excellent Cleansed seems to have been lost in this very average production.
Unlike Seneca’s Phaedra, which focuses more on the title character, Kane’s work draws attention more to Hippolytus, a vile and cynical prince and son to the King, Theseus. After he rejects the love of his stepmother, Phaedra, she claims to have been raped by the young prince and soon all hell breaks loose as there are calls for his execution.
Kane is, of course, known for the violence in her plays and, unlike classical drama, where all the violence takes place off stage, all of the savagery in Phaedra’s Love occurs right in front of our eyes.
One of the main problems with this production, aside from the weakness of the source material itself, is its lack of conviction. If you are to perform a Sarah Kane play, then you really have to do Sarah Kane and not shy away from her style. The play itself is perhaps unnecessarily vulgar and tries on occasion too hard to shock, but the production seems to go in the opposite direction and what we’re left with is something almost empty.
The performances are all polished and, given their attention to Cleansed, the company seem to genuinely have an affection for Kane’s work. But perhaps a little more time and effort was required on Phaedra’s Love.
C nova, 0845 260 1234, until 31 Aug (not 17, 24), 4.15pm, £8.50–£10.50 (£4.50–£6.50).