Phaedra Live Performance Analytical Critique
Last Thursday at the State Playhouse at California State University Los Angeles, Dr. James A. Hatfield directed the play Phaedra written by Jean Racine, first performed in 1677. The leading characters are Theseus, Phaedra, Hippolytus, Aricia, Oenone, Theramenes, Ismene, and Panope. The play depicts the lust that Phaedra has toward her stepson Hippolytus and the tragedy that her desire for him causes, which is the death of Hippolytus, Oenone, and even her own life. The way the actors interpreted the play through their own roles was that some of the actors were able to successfully portray the characters they are supposed to be.
The main theme in the play Phaedra is how the lust Phaedra felt for her stepson lead to tragedy in the end. Phaedra has a deep passion for her stepson, Hippolytus. She has tried terribly to stop her lust for him, even when she banishes him her lust towards him still burns strong. Her mind is occupied with the thoughts of him. She then blames Venus, the goddess of love, for her troubles. Phaedra claims that Venus has tainted her with a passion she cannot contain. When Oenone encourages her to proclaim her love to Hippolytus now that the king is dead she does so and it turns out that the king is actually alive, she blames Oenone for her misfortune. However, Oneone tells Phaedra to tell the king that Hippolytus has been the one who is in love with her. The tragedy that Phaedra has with herself caused tragedy among others as well. If she would have not listened to Oenone and been honest with her husband maybe the king, Theseus would of have not put a curse on his son causing his death, Oenone would not have died and Phaedra herself may have not died as well. The acting in order to portray those events was interesting because one is able to see it all play out. The way in which the actors are able to put themselves into character is fascinating because if one were to read the play it might be hard to understand however, once it is seen played out it makes more sense and is easier to understand in some way. The spectacle of the play was also very fascinating and was helpful in establishing a sense that was helpful in connecting with the play.
The spectacle was an important part of Phaedra. The scenery in Phaedra was very realistic and made the audience feel as if they were a part of the play. When you first walk into the State Playhouse one will see upon the stage what seemed to be an area of bathing, stone pillars and benches, and a cloudy musty blue background. The lighting was dimmed upon entering but as soon as the play began up until the break and after the break to the ending it was dark. The darkness evoked a sense of tragic events waiting to happen. It is not yet obvious until Phaedra confesses her desire for her stepson. It is then that one is to assume that something is bound to happen because she is a married women who is in love with non-other than her very husbands...