part of the rose bruford london season 2024
Phaedra Backwards by Marina Carr
Marina Carr’s vivid dream play plunges the audience into the background stories of the legendary Minotaur, and Phaedra herself, formidable Queen of Athens, and wife of King Theseus.
Early scenes of acerbic contemporary dialogue convey Phaedra’s contempt for her ageing husband and her cynical stepson Hippolytus. These combine with moments of heightened poetry as the play peels away layers of cruelty to reveal the origins of two myths of violence and obsession. In one, Phaedra’s mother Pasiphae, Queen of Minos, was tricked by the sea god into mating with a white bull, to give birth to the tormented Asterion, renamed Minotaur, imprisoned in a labyrinth and later killed by the young Theseus. In the other, Phaedra’s frustration with her vain and degenerate husband leads her to a destructive relationship with her stepson.