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Volume 68, Issue 33, Thursday, October 10, 2002

Arts & Entertainment

Kane's 'Phaedra's' stuns at The Axiom

By Chris Goodier
The Daily Cougar

Incest-driven tragedy, unrequited lust and tube sock ejaculation seethes from The Axiom's stage. 

This weekend marks the closing run of Phaedra's Love at the eastside rock venue turned playhouse, where the theatrical assault on morality and conventional sensibility remains unleashed after its late September debut.

As rewritten by shocking 1990s playwright Sarah Kane, the modern Roman tragedy legitimizes Infernal Bridegroom Production's reputation as the most dangerous drama-pusher in town. With bench -mark acclaim the group heralds Texas' first production by the deceased Englishwoman.

Looking past tempered critical reactions of "a disgusting feast of filth" and IBP's own deterrence regarding those with "weak stomachs or fragile hearts," Kane's work incited fiery debates regarding art's role in the contemporary world, resulting in her acclaim as "the most daunting, disturbing voice of her generation."

The story of Queen Phaedra and her stepson Hippolytus has never been without controversy. The monarch's wedding to Theseus does not restrain her desire for the destructive prince. What separates this Phaedra's Love from Seneca's version of two millennia ago is its shedding of classical bravura. 

Instead, the present modernizes current undertakings with the challenge of love in a godless society. By replacing the values of cleanliness with truth, the male lead opts to find his own conclusions through empirical discovery.

"My Hippolytus pursues honesty (over purity) even when it means he has to destroy himself and everyone else. The purity of his self-hatred makes him much more attractive than the virgin original," Kane said of her version.

Graphic events often left to side-stage suggestion are carried into the house with shocking theatrics. Acts of fellatio and disembowelment spare the burden of viewer imagination.

"Sometimes we have to descend into hell imaginatively in order to avoid going there in reality ... I'd rather risk overdose in theater than in life," Kane said.

Directed by Jason Nodler, with the accompaniment of music director Anthony Barilla's original score, Phaedra's Love runs tonight though Saturday at The Axiom, located on 2524 McKinney. Tickets are $10-$15.

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