“What I Did for Love,” a combination of Harold Pinter’s “The Lover” and Sarah Kane’s “Phaedra’s Love,” examined the more unusual sides of romantic relations.
What does unusual mean? Unusual is a man and a women cheating with one another, even though they’re married to each other. Unusual is a listless man who has sex with everyone including his step-sister and step-mother. Unusual is the unsettled feeling that the audience felt at the night’s end.
The first play, “The Lover,” begins with a seemingly normal 1960s suburban couple starting their day. The wife (freshman Grace Moran) prepares breakfast for her husband (junior Isaac Allen Miller) as he reads a newspaper. Then the husband puts down his paper and levelly asks, “Is your lover coming today?”
As the play goes on, the audience learns that the wife is open about her extramarital relationship, and the husband claims to be “well acquainted” with a whore. Then the audience learns that the husband is the lover and the wife is his “whore.”
The play explores the sexuality simmering beneath an apparently normal suburban household and the role of power and persona in relationships.
The acting and production of “The Lover” were impressive, but the most striking feature of the play was its set. With the exception of the most important props, the entire set was implied by chalk marks on black set pieces. This unusual choice allowed the lines between the real and the imaginary to become obscured, reflecting how the lines between characters become obscured during the play.
Although the acting and directing were well done in the second play, “Phaedra’s Love” was hurt by its script. It was a modern retelling of the ancient Greek play “Phaedra” (which is itself is adapted from the play “Hippolytus,” because everyone loves an adaptation).
The play tells the story of Phaedra (sophomore Kate LaRose), a queen, who falls in love with her stepson Hippolytus (freshman Neil Phelps). Hippolytus, a listless recluse who doesn’t even get happiness from constant sex, spurns her advances because it would ruin their relationship. Eventually, he allows her to perform oral sex on him, but when he does not return the affection she feels for him, she commits suicide. This is only the beginning.
In the suicide note, Phaedra accuses her stepson of rape. In prison, a priest tries to convince Hippolytus to confess his sins, but Hippolytus unearths the priest’s lack of faith. Then the priest performs oral sex on Hippolytus, which made me wonder if Hippolytus has a magic penis, because there was really no explanation for the act.
Theseus (junior Christopher Bakka), Hippolytus’s father, turns on his son. When his disguised stepdaughter (freshman Julie Schnieder) defends Hippolytus, Theseus rapes and murders her. This is Theseus’ first scene, and the audience had had no previous reason to believe he was a violent man, so it comes out of nowhere. Upon discovering her identity, he is horrified and strangles himself—which seems rather unlikely. Then the crowd lynches Hippolytus, who is finally energized by the pain and yells, “If only there were more moments like these.”
Although these scenes were very unsettling, they also were so over the top I felt like laughing. The drama which carried the first part of the play becomes ridiculous by the second. This version was a greatly toned down version of the original script. At times the play felt rushed or unsupported, and it is difficult to tell whether or not this is a product of the adaptation.