• Date:
    Friday, April 21, 2006

    Genre: Drama
    Opened 21 April 2006
    Written: by Frank McGuinness, after Racine
    Directed: Tom Cairns
    Produced: Donmar Warehouse
    Cast: Clare Higgins, Ben Meyjes, Linda Bassett, Sean Campion, Michael Feast, Lucy-Anne Holmes, Marcella Plunkett, Janet Whiteside
    Synopsis: Phaedra harbours a guilty secret - an overwhelming passion for her stepson Hippolytus, but he has a revelation even more terrible that could tear their world apart.

    What the critics had to say.....
    CHARLES SPENCER for THE DAILY TELEGRAPH says, "Offers 100 minutes of theatre at its purest and most savagely intense. It is as wild and thrilling as anything you'll find on the London stage." NICHOLAS DE JONGH for THE EVENING STANDARD says, "I loathed the experience of this Phaedra with a passion...The control and formality of Racine's verse runs in fascinating contrast to the wildness of emotions expressed. McGuinness understandably dispenses with rhymes but adopts a terse, jagged, incoherent diction." LYN GARDNER for THE GUARDIAN says, "If you ignore the video and just concentrate on the actors this is an evening of real potential....a new version by Frank McGuinness that cuts across the 17th-century rhetoric like a razor blade to deliver up a sharply contemporary script." JOHN THAXTER for THE STAGE says, "This is a tough, completely new English text with a power and accessibility to equal his superb version of Hecuba, seen at the Donmar two years ago." BENEDICT NIGHTINGALE for THE TIMES says, "It’s time that Higgins took her place at the top table beside our greatest actresses, for she has more capacity for malevolence than Judi Dench, the inner darkness that distinguishes Eileen Atkins, and as much power as Fiona Shaw." ALASTAIR MACAULAY for THE FINANCIAL TIMES says, "McGuinness adds nothing interesting to Racine’s original, but he is often flashy and slapdash in his version." PAUL TAYLOR for THE INDEPENDENT says, "The production feels, as yet, a bit undercooked in places...There's nothing remotely lukewarm, though, about Higgins's superb portrayal of Phaedra. She brilliantly presents a creature consumed with burning self-hatred and fired by an indignant, disbelieving anger at her own humiliation."

    External links to full reviews from popular press
    The Guardian
    The Stage
    The Independent
    Daily Telegraph
    The Times
    Financial Times

    Production photo by Stephen Cummiskey

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