Efi Theodorou

by Racine

The play is based on the well-known myth of Hippolytus and Phaedra, which has inspired numerous writers from the ancient years to the present, from Euripides to Seneca to Sarah Kane. Unlike Euripides’ Hippolytus, Jean Racine’s tragedy focuses on the lovelorn Phaedra, Hippolytus’ stepmother, and the experience of being rejected in love. In the beginning of the play, Hippolytus intends to elope with Aricia, the daughter of a rival house, whom he plans to marry, taking advantage of the absence of his father, Theseus. Meanwhile, Phaedra confides her love for Hippolytus to Oenone, her nurse. Later, learning of Theseus’ death, she is compelled to confess her feelings to Hippolytus, who coldly rebuffs her. Everything changes when the news of Theseus’ demise is proved to be false and the king returns to the city. Hoping to avert her lady’s catastrophe, the nurse claims that Hippolytus attempted to rape his stepmother. Confronting his father, the youth reveals his love for Aricia, while refusing to expose Phaedra. Exiled and cursed by his father, Hippolytus falls to his death from a cliff while riding his chariot. Ultimately, Phaedra reveals the truth and then kills herself. The play finishes on a note of sadness and atonement: having destroyed his house, Theseus takes Aricia under his wing, thus honouring the memory of his dead son.

With Greek and English surtitles