“Three hours of vomiting, fellatio and menstruation”. So said British magazine The Spectator of Isabelle Huppert’s new play Phaedra(s), which opened in London in June.
Soon, New York audiences will be able to judge for themselves. This legend of French cinema will perform her latest play at Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) from September 13th – 18th, and part of the Next Wave 2016 festival.
In this challenging piece directed by Polish director Krzysztof Warlikowski, Huppert interprets the myriad personas of the legendary ill-fated queen Phaedra, protagonist of the tragedy by Racine. Married to Theseus, king of Athens, Phaedra falls in love with her step-son, Hippolyte. Rejected, she takes revenge by accusing him of rape and commits suicide.
Warlikowski’s version, played in French with English subtitles, is a compilation of three notable, modern adaptations by British playwright Sarah Kane, Lebanese-Canadian writer/actor Wajdi Mouawad, and South African novelist J.M. Coetzee. The “crude” and “violent” result premiered at the théâtre de l’Odéon in Paris this past May, eliciting strong reactions from all critics. Brutal assault, graphic sexual acts and copious quantities of blood stand out against a clinical backdrop of tile and mirrors. French journal Télérama described the actress as “radiant”, while the play was “incomprehensible” and “pretentious”. According to French newspaper Le Monde Huppert played a “modern Phaedra, multi-faceted and unique.”
For fans of the multi Molière and César award-winning actress, it’s a reminder of Huppert’s versatility, power and skill as an actor. Her upcoming film Happy End, directed by Michael Haneke, will be released in 2017.
Featured image: Stock Photos from Denis Makarenko /Shutterstock