Out of the Wings

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LOS RESTOS: Fedra (1996-1997), Raúl Hernández Garrido

English title: THE REMAINS: Phaedra
Date written: from 1996 to 1997
First publication date: 2004
Keywords: morality > honour, identity, identity > race, family > marriage, family > duty, power > intimidation, power > use and abuse, love > desire, family, family > incest
Genre and type: tragedy

In this modern-day Greek tragedy, a young bride and her stepson wrestle with their desire for one another.


A young woman is brought from her war-torn country to safety. As the bombs fell, Phaedra was rescued by a modern-day Theseus. He and his dark-skinned bride married, much to the disapproval of his friends and family. Now, Theseus must go to war once again, leaving his new wife to wander the halls of his mansion, alone.

Phaedra hides away in her vast new home. Her only contact with the outside world is through her stepson, Hippolytus. Hippolytus is older than his father’s wife, and resents her presence in his house. He sees Phaedra as an imposter. Hippolytus spends his days gambling and drinking. He has huge debts, and demands money from a frightened Phaedra to pay his way. With his father away on military duty, Hippolytus abuses his privileges as Theseus’s son. He installs his own girlfriends in Phaedra’s marital bed, forcing her to sleep outside in the corridor. Finally, things come to a head between the two young people. Phaedra stands up to her intimidating stepson. As she does so, and as she and Hippolytus stare at one another in anger, they each realise the truth: it is not hatred that burns between them, but desire.

Both Phaedra and Hippolytus run from their feelings. A chorus of voices, which has been with Phaedra from the beginning, warns her against temptation. These are the same voices that, earlier in the play, urged her to flee from her new home. Gradually, however, the voices change in tone, as they try to convince Phaedra that her husband has been killed and that she should move on with her life. Hippolytus, too, is accosted by voices that urge him to get rid of the foreigner in his house. Hippolytus still owes money, and the voices command the young man to destroy Phaedra in order to clear his debt. In desperation, Hippolytus goes once more to Phaedra to ask for money. If he can repay his debt some other way, then Phaedra will be safe. But there is no money left. Angry and frustrated, Hippolytus and Phaedra argue once again. The dispute turns violent, until both of them give in to their shameful but unavoidable feelings.

Phaedra and Hippolytus make love. Afterwards, however, Hippolytus refuses to acknowledge what has happened. Confused, and alone in a strange land, Phaedra believes that she has been deliberately deceived by Hippolytus as part of some cruel joke. But even if Hippolytus tries to pretend that nothing happened, he will not be able to escape the truth. Phaedra is pregnant. She and Hippolytus argue over the baby. Hippolytus realises that he will not be able to face his father, should he return. He leaves, ignoring Phaedra’s pleas for him to stay. In anger, Phaedra talks to the chorus of voices who are pursuing Hippolytus for money, and they promise to protect her from him. Phaedra, horrified, realises just what exactly this means. But it is too late. Hippolytus is murdered.

Phaedra’s radio picks up a distant message from her husband. He is coming home a hero. But Phaedra’s last words in the play are not about her husband. Rather, cradling dead Hippolytus in her lap, she promises that she will live, for the sake of their son.

An Appendix scene takes place in a forest-labyrinth. Like a madwoman, Phaedra searches through the forest, as she articulates the events of the play: her loneliness, her hatred for Hippolytus, her growing love for him, and her guilt and shame at his death. In the end, wanting to be with her dead lover, Phaedra hangs herself.


The play takes as its source the Greek myth of Phaedra and Hippolytus. Phaedra was married to Theseus, but fell in love with her stepson Hippolytus. In the myth Hippolytus does not reciprocate her love and so, in revenge, Phaedra tells Theseus that her stepson tried to rape her. In one version of the tale, Theseus kills his son. Wracked with guilt, Phaedra then kills herself.

Critical response

The play was runner up for the Spanish SGAE Theatre prize in 1998 and reached the finals for the National Dramatic Literature prize in 2000.

The playwright’s use of myth in this play and also in THE REMAINS: Agamemnon Comes Home has been commented upon by a number of scholars. In her prologue to the text published in Los esclavos, Margarita Garrido notes how the play depicts the fragmentation of contemporary society, exploring themes such as the futility of war and racism through the lens of a well-known Greek myth (Hernández Garrido 2009).

  • Hernández Garrido, Raúl. 2009. Los esclavos. Los malditos; Los engranajes; LOS RESTOS: Agamenón vuelve a casa; LOS RESTOS: Fedra. Madrid, Teatro del Astillero (in Spanish)

Further information

LOS RESTOS: Fedra is part of a cycle of plays published together under the title Los esclavos (The Slaves). These plays are inspired by Michelangelo’s series of four statues of slaves in Florence which were supposed to be added to the tomb of Pope Julius II, along with other statues from the Louvre. Seeing the perfection of the other statues that would stand alongside his, Michelangelo decided not to finish his slaves, leaving the signs of his work visible. In this way the unfinished slaves seem to struggle against the material from which they are wrought.


Entry written by Gwynneth Dowling. Last updated on 13 October 2011.

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