Phaedra’s fate is set in stone. Since the ancient Greek myth has existed, it has been told and retold into the present time. Euripides, Ovid, Seneca, and Jean Racine are but some of the authors who have spread the material. Operas, films, frescos, and sarcophaguses also address the story. The end usually goes unchanged: Phaedra commits suicide. She cannot handle the humiliation of her stepson’s unrequited love. Her closest confidante, Oenone, dies during the piece as well. To protect her mistress, she starts the rumor that Hippolytos, the son of Phaedras’ husband, was after the king’s lovesick royal consort. The king sticks by his wife, which here is synonymous with his own son’s death.
In his adaptation for Schauspiel Köln, Thomas Jonigk lets Phaedra know about her inevitable fate. She is, as are all the other characters, aware of the story’s progression – but they cannot escape it. The roles have been fixed for millennia and are highly verbally negotiable and adaptable. Reality, however, is not only linguistic discourse. So the cast reflects upon love, family, social roles, the patriarchy, and ends up deciding on the well-known path: Phaedra commits suicide. For so it is written.