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Friday, May 30, 2014

‘Phaedra’s Love’ on World Stage

Brief, brutal and filthy

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Phaedra’s Love is as brief as it is brutal. The World’s Stage Theatre Company’s production of the Sarah Kane drama finds its home in an improvised space at the Shops of Grand Avenue through the end of the month. The space is strewn with the haphazard clutter of empty cans, pizza boxes and the like. It’s an ugly place where ugly things happen. There will be a few filthy orgasms. There will be emotionally grotesque oral sex. There will be multiple homicides including graphic disembowelment. This is a one-hour tragedy and it is not pretty.

Philip Sletteland rests on a couch watching TV in the role of Hippolytus, a sociopathic royal actively avoiding any meaningful human contact. Sletteland is fearlessly apathetic in a role that he renders in an appealingly bleary torpor until events call the character into a reluctant emotional awakening.

Amy Hansmann plays the tragically obsessed Phaedra who loves her adoptive son with a fervor that is far more than maternal. Hansmann plays unwholesome psychological imbalance with a heartbreaking intensity that fuses with Sletteland’s disgusted apathy quite compellingly. Lest Phaedra seem completely alone, Kane allows audiences the relief of seeing concern for her manifest in her daughter Strophe. Jocelyn Ridgely pours a tremendous amount of cleverly tempered emotion into the role of Strophe, who is seen first confronting Phaedra, then Hippolytus.

Robert WC Kennedy rounds out the central cast in a trio of roles that all seem to be different angles on the same patriarchal persona. He plays Doctor, Priest and King. All are doomed to failure. Kennedy makes the failure seem like heroic sacrifice with requisite charisma.

World’s Stage Theatre Company’s production of Phaedra’s Love runs through May 31 at the Grand Avenue’s Site 21150, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave. For tickets, visit twstheatre.com.