Camden Fringe 2015
“My hands are pure, but my mind has some pollution.” Phaedra, from the Greek Tragedy Hippolytus by Euripides. A short dance work from Praxis Theatre and Performance collective. Choreographed and performed by Eirini Apostolatou. Director Christiana Ioanno. Running time: 30 minutes
In this dance solo, Eirini Apostolatou collaborates with director Christiana Ioannou for one night only. A deconstruction of the play Hippolytus by Euripides, focused on the leading character Phaedra.
Impressively dark and moody, the eerie and sobering music of the waves highlight the very dry and brutal landscape which is the set for this disturbing tale.
It’s intention is to offer an insight into the negative emotions that have overwhelmed Phaedra. Stoic throughout, Eirini offers us her interpretation of this female figure in which she has developed and referenced through a clear understanding of ancient Greek culture.
Driven mad by shame and the despair of her love for her stepson Hippolytus, Phaedra commits suicide. Eirini executes her references and writhes across the floor with strong acrobatic skill.
My favourite moment of the piece are the use of the branches. We can look and consider the images in front of us, a deserted land. Perhaps the place for the desperate. Or perhaps you see the completion of offering herself back to the ground in order to protect her virtue. Either way it is for me the most unique part of the dance which took my mind into another chapter of this story. I’d like to have seen more of these types of images develop.
I understand the references and choices made in the creation of this interpretation. It was not a character choice I was expecting to see and yet, with this in mind I still felt I needed to connect with Phaedra on a more human level. Her heartache, her private pain and the descent that she goes through. There were moments I felt that Phaedra in fact was under a spell and hypnotized rather than working through an inner turmoil. She has been cursed by the goddess Aphrodite, but it is Phaedra that must bear the consequences of the challenges inflicted upon her.
This is certainly a great idea and a brilliant chance to re ignite Phaedra to the stage. I do think that there are many more ways the dance can be strengthened in routine, sequences and character choices. With further opportunities this is a special piece to remind us of the story and character of a very strong Greek tragedy.