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Phaedra 

When: Wednesdays, Thursdays, 8 p.m., Fridays, Saturdays, 7 p.m. and Sundays, 5 p.m. Continues through Oct. 23 2011
Price: $18-$27

The story of Phaedra will never get old. She's a consummate cougar and malevolent devourer of young men -- namely, her stepson. In Adam Bock's contemporary version of the classic (originally dramatized by Greek playwright Euripides, but later adapted by Jean Racine, who Bock used as source material), the lead character Catherine is played by Catherine Castellanos, a handsome local actress who manages to look reptilian and delicate at the same time, as she slithers about Nina Ball's two-story set. Her husband Antonio (Keith Burkland) is an alcoholic, negligent, conservative politico; her stepson Paulie (Patrick Alparone) is an attractive, wayward ex-con. Bock reads Phaedra's desire as reactionary and conditional -- spawned largely from her dissatisfaction with Antonio, and from the sudden availability of Antonio's stepson, who renders himself easy prey. The acting is as fine-tuned as the set design in this Shotgun Players production directed by Rose Riordan. Cindy Im and Trish Mulholland round out the cast and provide comic relief in an otherwise harrowing tale. Phaedra runs through Oct. 23 at The Ashby Stage (1901 Ashby Ave., Berkeley). $18-$27. 510-841-6500 or ShotgunPlayers.org

— Rachel Swan

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