Interesting stimulus for a much under-resourced play. Yr12 – read this.
Do we believe that Johnny “Rooster” Byron is having sex with Phaedra, the 15-year-old girl he’s sheltering from the stepfather who has apparently been sexually abusing her? And, if we do, how come we don’t think Johnny’s abusing her, too? Or do we?
These questions go to the heart of what makes this play so interesting and disturbing—and the answer is only partly that Mark Rylance embodies Johnny as such a vivid life force that we might almost forgive him anything.
The tenderness of Johnny’s third-act scene with Phaedra certainly suggests a relationship. She brings down the curtain on the second act when she suddenly emerges from his trailer in the woods and calls his name. When she emerges again in Act 3 to find Johnny alone among the dilapidated furniture scattered in the yard out front, she recounts the thrill of being crowned queen of the annual fair on…
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